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c^\tAGH Cq^ 


Class No 
Book No 
Acc. No. 

^< 9 a . g 







M.A., D.Litt. 

With Notes for Indian Students 


J. S. ARMOUR M.A., l.E.S. 







Julius Csesar. 

The Merchant of Venice. 

A Midsummer-Night’s 

King Richard II. 



In the Warwick Shakespeare an attempt is made to 
present the greater plays of the dramatist in their literary 
aspect, and not merely as material for the study of philology 
or grammar. Criticism purely verbal and textual has only 
been included to such an extent as may serve to help the 
student in his appreciation of the essential poetry. Questions 
of date and literary history have been fully dealt with in tlie 
Introductions, but the larger space has been devoted to the 
interpretative rather than the matter-of-fact order of scholar- 
ship. Aesthetic judgments are never final, but the Editors 
have attempted to suggest points of view from which the 
analysis of dramatic motive and dramatic character may be 
profitably undertaken. In the Notes likewise, while it is 
hoped that all unfamiliar expressions and allusions have been 
adequately explained, yet it has been thought even more 
important to consider the dramatic value of each scene, and 
the part which it plays in relation to the whole. These 
general principles are common to the whole series; in detail 
each Editor is alone responsible for the plays intrusted to 

Every volume of the series has been provided with a 
Glossary, an Essay upon .Metre, and an Index; and Appen- 
dices have been added upon points of special interest, which 
could not conveniently be treated in the Introduction or the 
Notes. The text is based by the several Editors on that of 
the Globe edition: the only omissions made are those that are 
unavoidable in an edition likely to be used by young students. 

By the systematic arrangement of the introductory matter, 
and by close attention to typographical details, every* effort 
has been made to provide an edition that w’ill prove coa- 
venient in use. 


prepared under the general editorship of Professor 

F.B.A., and contains the 

C. H. Herford, Litt.D 
following volumes: 


As You Like It 



Henrv the Fourth — Parti. 
Henry THE Foiirth — Part II. 
Henry the Fifth. 

Henry the Eighth. 

Julius C/esar. 

King John. 

King Lear. 


The Merchant of Venice. 

A Midsummer-Night's 

Much Ado About Nothing. 

Richard the Second. 
Richard the Third. 

The Tempest. 

Twelfth Night. 

The Winter's Tale. 

Edited by 

J. C. Smith, M.A., B.A. 

Sir Edmund K. Chambers. 
K.B.E.. C.B.. M.A.. D.Litt. 

A- J. Wyatt, M.A. 

Sir Edmund K. Chambers. 

F. W. Moorman. B.A., Ph.D. 

C. H. Herford. Litt.D., F.B.A. 

G. C. Moore Smith, D.Litt., 
Ph.D., LL.D. 

D. Nichol Smith, M.A.. 

Arthur D. Inncs, M.A. 

G. C. Moore Smith. 

D. Nichol Smith. 

Sir Edmund K. Chambers. 

H. L. Withers. 

Sir Edmund K. Chambers. 
J. C. Smith. 

C. H. Herford, Litt.D.. F.B.A. 

C. H. Herford. 

.Sir Georpe Macdonald. 
K.C.B., D.Litt., LL.D. 

F. S. Boas, M.A., LL.D. 

Arthur D. Inncs, M.A. 

C. H. Herford. 



Introduction 7 

Dramatis Person/E - 28 

A Midsummer-Nigh rs Dream 29 

Notes 97 

Aim'endix a — The Fairy World .... 149 

.'\i'i>ENDix B— The Two (Quartos oe 1600 • - 168 

Appendix C— On the Weather ok 1594 • .169 

Appendix D — The Like ok Theseus - • • i?' 

Appendix K— On the Legend ok Pvramus and 

Thisbe 174 

Appendix F — On the Pi.ay ok “Nar< issus” ■ - 17^ 

Appendix G — On the Allegory in ii. i. 148-168 - 179 

Appendix II— On William Stanley, Sixth Earl 

OF Derby 179 

Appendix I— On W. Bkttie’s Titania and Theseus 180 

Essay on Metre 182 

Glossary 199 

Index of Words 208 

General Index 210 

Addendum: Shakespeare’s Stage in its bearing 
upon his Drama, by Prof. C. 11 . Herkord, Litt.D. 

Accession No- 



Call No. 

me. i A 







The Registers of the Company of Stationers 
for tlie year 1600 contain, amongst other entries 
of books “ allowed to be priiited ’’, the following ; 

8 Octobris 

Thomas ffyshcr Entred for his Copie vnder the handes of 
master Rodes and the Wardens. A booke called A 
sommer nightes Drcame vj^. 

During the same year, that is, before March 25, i6oj, two 
editions of the play in Quarto form appeared. ^ 

A careful comparison has established the fact (l ishers 

that the earliest of these, known as the First 

Quarto, or Q 1, is that which has the following title-page ; — 

“[Ornament] j A | Midsommer nights | dreame. i As it hath 
beene sundry times pub- ! lickely acted by the Right 
honoura- \ ble, the Lord Chamberlaine his | senuuits. \ 
Written by William Shakespeare. \ [Fisher’s device: a 
kingfisher] ] ^Imprinted at London, for Thomas Fisher., 
and are to ] be souldc at his shoppe, at the Signe of the 
White Hart, | in Fleete streete. 1600.” 

This is often called Fisher’s Quarto. 

The Second Quarto, known also as Q 2 or Roberts’ Quarto, 
is a reprint, page for page, of Q 1. The typographical details 
are better arranged, the spelling is less archaic, Second 
a few misprints arc corrected, and a somewhat (Roberts’) 
more than compensating number of errors have 
been allowed to creep in. The title-page runs as follows: — 



Entry in the 



Oct. 8lh, 1600. 



“[Ornament] | A | Midsommer nights | dreame. \ As it 
hath beene sundry times pub- | likely acted, by the 
Right Honoura- \ ble, the Lord Chamberlaine his | 
seruants. | Written by William Shakespeare. \ [Roberts’ 
device: the Geneva Arms: a Half-Eagle and Key.]) 
Printed by lames Roberts, 1600.” 

It has been thought that Roberts’ edition was merely a 
pirated version of that published by Fisher ; but on the whole 
The Qu.nrtos appears more likely that Fisher, who was not 
and hollos. himself a printer as well as a publisher, got the 
second edition, if not the first also, printed for him by Roberts, 
who was both ; and that the issue of two editions in si.x 
months was simply due to the success of the play. No third 
edition was, however, printed before the great collection of 
all Shakespeare’s plays, known as the First Folio (F i) of 
1623. The version of el A/idsummer- Night’s Dream there 
given appears to have been printed from a copy of Q 2 kept 
for use in the library of the theatre. This is shown by the 
lact that the stage-directions which it contains are more 
numerous and elaborate than those given in either of the 
Quartos, and were evidently written for practical use. * The 
text of the First Folio was reproduced in the Second, Third, 
and Fourth h'dios of 1632 (F 2), 1664 (F 3), and 1685 (F 4). 

The text oi A Afidsnmmer-NighPs Dream has come down 
to us in a singularly perfect state. This is probably due to 
Purity of the First Quarto having been originally printed 

from a clear and authentic manuscript. The 
slight viiriations introduced from time to lime 
in the later editions do not appear to rest upon any indepen- 
dent authority. When they are not mere mistakes, they are 
only conjectural emendations of the printer or editor. Some- 
times, of course, they happily correct a slip in the First 

1 he date of A Afidsummer- Night's Dream has given rise 
to more than the usual amount of vain imaginings. The only 

Text of the 
First Quarto. 

* See the notes on iii. 3. 415, 418, 463 ; v. 1. ia8, A fuller account of the two 
Quartos, and of their relations to the First Folio, is given in Appendix B, 



precise external indication which we liave to go upon is the 
mention of the play in the list of Shakespeare's comedies 
given in Francis Meres' F<illa(iis Taniia, which D^tcfthc 
\\'as entered in the Stationers’ Register i)n J’lay; mcn- 
September 7, I 598. Later than i 598, therefore. 
it cannot be, but in attempting to fix a year in 
the previous decade we have only internal evidence to go 
upon. Several passages in the text have been taken hold of 
by one critic or another as containing some contemporary 
allusion which might yield such evidence. Most of them 
'vill not bear serious discussion ; * and a careful consideration 
of all which are of anv real importance, together , 
uith the arguments, less easily slated but not ihe%umcrof 
less cogent, which can be derived from the ’5';4-5 

thought and style of the play, leads me to the belief that the 
probable date is to be found in the winter of 1594-5. 1 will 

now attempt to justify this conclusion. 

Amongst the entertainments proposed for Theseus’ wedding 
eve in act v. is included— 

" The thrice ilirec Muses mourning for the death 
Of learning, late deceased in beggary" (v. i. S2-53>. 

I his passage can hardly refer, as has been suggested, to the 
death of Spenser, for that did not take place 1 i,e Aili.^inn lo 
until 1599, and was most probably not ‘in of 

beggary at all. It might possibly refer to the ^ i 52 
death of Robert Greene in J592. Greene was learned, 
titriusque Acadomae in Artibus Mai^iste>\ and he certainly 
died in extreme want. But then Greene was almost certainly 
no friend of Shakespeare’s, and as will be seen presently, it 

IS just possible that he is caricatured, rather than compli- 
mented, in this \ ery play.^ Moreover, Tlieseus says of the 

* Sec the notes on the supposed imitations of or allusions to The Faerie Queene, 
Bk vi. {1596) in ii. i. 5, Lodge's H'it's Miserie ami the li'orld's Madness 1596' 

V, I, II, and Thf Wisdotitv of Doctor DodypoU 1600 in Ii. i. 14. 

• See the note on iv. 1. 210 Mr. Flcay of opinion that in Bolioni and Iiis fel- 
lows Shakespeare ^atiri/ed the Earl of Sussex* Players, wiili whom Greene appa- 
rently became connected after the decay of the Queen's Company, and who pro- 
bably produced his Ceotf^c a GrtCftf, I'hese mc4i appeared once, .and once only, 
at court, on Jan. 2, 1592, and acted at the Rose in the spring of 1593. 



proposed performance, “ This is some satire, sharp and criti- 
cal”;* and therefore it seems most likely that Shakespeare 
had in his mind those elaborate complaints, often allegorical, 
of the neglect of learning, which were so fashionable in 
Elizabeth’s reign. And if so, he probably took the hint for 
his title from Spenser’s Tears of the i^lusesy a poem of just 
this sort, which was published among the Complaints of 1591.* 
In any case, it is clear that whatever the point of the allusion 
may be, it does not bring us so far on as i 594. 

The passage which primarily suggests this date is that in 
act ii. sc. I. 81-117, where Titania describes at great length 

a season of extraordinarily bad weather. Now 
'I'hc Allusion to . , . , , ^ 

the Weather in it SO happens that wc have several contem- 

n. 1. 81-117. porary descriptions of a quite exceptionally wet 
and cold summer which occurred in this year of 1594* descrip- 

tions which in many points appear to echo Titania’s very 
words."* It goes, of course, without saying that Shakespeare 
might perfectly well have described a rainy season without 
the slightest reference to the year in which he was writing, 
or to any other year in particular. At the same time, such a 
passage wouhl have had its special point for the audience in 
or immediately after 1594, and it is worth noting that, looked 
on merely as part of the play, it is somewhat irrelevant and 
even dramatically out of place; for the larger part of the 
action is carried on out of doors, and clearly demands fair 

weather. On the whole, the coincidence appears to me at 

least to raise a presumption in favour of the proposed date, 
provided that it is in other respects acceptable. 

A third allusion also tells in favour of 1594, and, moreover, 
points distinctly to the latter part of that year. In act i. sc. 2 
and in act iii. sc. i, there is some alarm amongst the clowns 
lest that “fearful wild fowl”, the lion, should frighten the 

I If the allusion is to Grccnc, perhaps Shakespeare was thinking of the unfair 
attack made on him after his death by Gabriel Harvey. 

^ I do not suggest that Shakespeare is letuming a compliment paid him as ** pleas- 
ant Willy” in the Tears 0/ the Muses. Willy may be Sidney, or be may be l^yly* 
but what is said of him is ipiite inconsistent with Shakespeare's position even in 
1591, still more at the earlier date at which the poem appears to have been written* 
•1 have reprinted these descriptions from Stowe's Annals and elsewhere in 
Appendix C* 


1 1 

ladies. It can hardly be doubted that this is a reminiscence 
of what actually happened in the Scottish court i Kt.* .Miusion 
at the baptism of Prince Henry on August 30th, 

1594, when a triumphal car “should have been > 2. and in 1. 
drawn in by a lion, but because his presence might have 
brought some fear to the nearest, or that the sight of the 
lights and torches might have commoved his lameness, it 
was thought meet that the Moor should supply that room '’.^ 

This same date of 1594-5 seems to me to suit admirably 
with the character and style of the play. It clearly belongs 
to the earliest group of Shakespeare's comedies. . . t- 

It abounds with rhyme, with strained conceits, deuce a.'> to the 
with antithesis and other rhetorical devices. 

I he blank verse is far more regular and monotonous than 
that of any of the later plays: the u^e of trisyllabic feel, 
of run-on lines, of broken lines, of feminine endings, of the 
countless other devices by which Shakespeare gradually came 
to give infinite variety to his rhv thm, is as yet timid and rare.- 
Then, again, the interest of character is very slight. Hoitom 
IS a masterpiece and Theseus a clever sketch, but how 
wooden are the rest compared with the living figures of The 
Merchant of I'enice, which probably dates from 1596-7! 
Moreover, they fall naturally into pairs, with that antithetic 
grouping, which, like the antithetic rhythm, is so marked in 
Shakespeare’s early work. On the other hand, if A Mid- 
sum?ner-2\i^i(ht's Dream is compared with the other early 
comedies, with Lovds Labour's Losty The Comedy of ErrorSy 
and The Two Gentlemen of VeronUy it betrays in many ways 
a notable advance.^ It is written with a firmer and less ex- 
perimental hand, with a more daring use of materials, with a 
more striking mastery of poetic expression. And technically, 

* An account of the ceremony was published at Edinburgh in 1594 (?). Thi-. 
was reprinted from the later edition of 1603 in Nichols' Progrtsses 0/ FJizab€th^ 
iii. 365. 

^ See the Essay on Metre, § 19. 

® If the order of the plays were determined solely by the proportion of rhymed 
to un rhymed lines, A Midsumtner-Kight's Dr /am would be the earliest but one, 
not the latest of its group. See Essay on Metre, § 17. But the test is fallible, 
and the exceptionally lyrical, masque-like character of the play fully accounts 
for the amount of rhyme. 


1 2 

too, the absence of doggerel rliyme from the comic scenes 
is a mark of development. If we make it one of the early 
group, but the last of that group, all the conditions of the 
problem are satisfied. Certain themes and situations are re- 
peated from the earlier plays : thus the situation of the lovers 
before Theseus recalls that of Aegeon before the Duke in The 
Cofuedy of Errors \ but the closest affinities in this respect 
are with The Tivo Gentlemen of Verona^ the play which on this 
hypothesis immediately preceded. In both, the interference 
of the claims of love with those of friendship forms an impor- 
tant element hi the plot.* 

Hut the chief advantage of dating A Midsummer-Night's 
Dream in 1594-5 is that it brings it into close neighbourhood 

AiTinitics. of Richard II. and to Romeo and Juliet. These 

the Play with three plays, a comedy, a history, and a tragedy, 
and KomtonnH make Up a well-dcfincd group, all alike charac- 

tcrired by a markedly lyrical quality. They are 

dramatic poems rather than dramas, and appear to point 
to an attempt, a transient attempt, of the poet to find dra- 
matic value in painting the phases of emotion rather than the 
development of character.^ The connection oi A Aftdsutnmer- 
Night's Dream with Romeo and Juliet is even closer: they 
are in some sort pendants to each other. Both deal directly 
with the same problem of the function of love in life : but 
whereas in the comedy, as will presently be shown, it is love 
the lawless, the misleader, that is put before us, the tragedy 

aims deeper and gives us love the redeemer, the reconciler. 
Finally, it may be pointed out that the fate of the “star-crossed 
lovers” creates a situation exactly parallel to that burlesqued 
in Fyramus and Thisbe. 

Such evidence then as we can arrive at points to the winter 
Was tiie Play of 1 594-5 as the most probable dale for the 
?Vcdding^an*d'if Composition of A Midsummer-Night's Dream. 
so, whose? Hearing this in mind, we may consider the at- 
tempts that have been made to determine the precise occasion 

> Shakespeare*^ preoccupation with this theme at this period of his Hfe should 
be read in the light afforded by the Sennits, 

See the Introduction to my edition of Richard //. in the Falcon Series. 



on which it was first presented. The character of the play is in 
some respects peculiar. In its wealth of dance and song, in 
its capacities for scenic eftect, in its introduction of suj)er' 
natural beings, it resembles, more than any other of .Shake- 
speare’s comedies, the type of the fashionable Elizabethan 
Masque. And in the juxtaposition of clowns and fairies we 
get just that favourite contrast of poetry and burlesque out of 
which Jonson afterwards developed the set form of the Anti- 
masque.* Now Masques were distinctly aristocratic and not 
popular entertainments; they look place not on the j)iib!ic 
stages, but in the palace, or in the great halls of the Inns 
of Court or of private dwellings. They were especially in 
vogue at marriage festivities. Seeing that A Midsmnitur- 
Nighfs Dream deals with a marriage, and ends with what is 
practically an epithalamium, it is at least a plausible theory 
that it was written to grace the wedding night of some young 
noble. Moreover, in view of the graceful and extremely irre- 
levant compliment to Elizabeth which is inserted in act ii. 

sc. 1,2 it is difficult not to suspect that the wedding in ques- 

tion was one at which the queen was herself present. The 
two occasions for which this exiraordinarv honour have been 
most often claimed are the marriage of the Earl of Essex 
to Frances Lady Sidney in 1590, and that of the Earl 
of Southampton to Elizabeth \'ernon in 1 598.^ Both of 
these appear to me decidedly out of the question. Not only 
is the one too early and the other too late, but also they were 
both secret marriages, carefully concealed from the displea- 
sure of the queen, and certainly not celebrated in her presence 
or likely to have been attended with any sumptuous festivities 

* Sec the adnurable sketch of tlic history of the Masque in Mr. Verity’s Pitt 
PreN> edition of Milton's Arcades and Cctnus^ 

5 See Appendix F 

* 1 he two champions of the claims of Essex have been El2C in his Essays on 
Shakespeare, and Herman Kiirz in tlie Jahrbuch vol. iv. of the German Shake- 
speare Society for 1869. Those of Southampton are supported by Mr. Gerald 
Massey in his Secret Dranta 0/ Shakespeare’ s Sonnets and earlier work. Mr. 
M*'i^sey interprets the whole plot as referring to the rivalry for Southampton’s 
affections between Elizabeth Vernon and Penelope Rich. A pretty show for a 
wedding night ! But then Elze findj> in the Ariadne and Perigenia passage an 
allusion to Essex' past amours! 


at all. We owe a much more likely suggestion to Mr. Fleay. 

Was it at ihc January 26th, 1596,* William Stanley, Earl 

Wedding of the of Derby, married Elizabeth Vere, daughter 
Sr of the Earl of Oxford. The wedding took place 
159H at the Court at Greenwich, and therefore almost 

certainly in the presence of Elizabeth. Lord Derby, like all 
the Stanleys, was interested in the drama (sec Appendix 
M), and it is worth noting that the very company to which 
Shakespeare belonged had been up to his death, on April 
16th of the previous year, the servants of his elder 
brother and predecessor, Ferdinando. Yet one more 
point. I have explained the allusion to the “ thrice three 
Muses” as referring to Spenser’s Tears of the Muses. Hut 
why, writing in 1 594-5, should Shakespeare refer pointedly 
to a poem published so far back as i 59 *^ present 

hypothesis affords an answer. An honoured guest at \\ illiam 
Stanley’s wedding would be the widow of Ferdinando, Alice, 
dowager-Countess of Derby. And the allusion to Spenser’s 
poem would be a compliment to her, for to her, Spenser’s 
cousin, and then Lady Strange, it had been originally dedi- 

cated in I 591.'* 

We have passed into the region of conjecture. The dating 
of Midsummer-Night's Dream in 1594-5 * regard as fairly 

certain ; but 1 do not pretend to do more than 
sibly Wtmiche'a guess at the actual occasion upon which it was 
at a Kitcr date, pj-rformcd. Whatever this occasion may have 

been, we know from the Qq. that the play was performed 

“publickely” before it was printed in 1600. There are certain 
indications which make me think that it also at some 

period slightly retouched. Two passages, iii. 2. 177 ” 343 ' 
and V. I. 1-105, show a markedly larger proportion of 
feminine endings than the rest of the play.^ In the earlier 

* This U the date given for the event in Stowe's Annals* All the peerages give 
it, probnbly copying each other, as 26th June, 1594* Ol* course this brings us 
temptingly near to Midsummer Pay (June 24th^, but then it would be too early 
for the allusion to the Hon at Prince t-Ienry's christening on Augtist 30th* 

^ If this hypothesis has anything in it, Lady Derby will have received 
honour from the three greatest poets of two centuries : for it was for her, in her old 
age, that Milton's mascpie of Arcades was written. 

^See Essay on Metre, §§. 13. 16. 



passages, this may be due merely to the excited state of the 

speakers, but I cannot resist the suspicion that the opening 

of act V. shows some traces of later work. Perhaps in its 

original form, it was even more personal to the Stanley family 
than it is now. 

I he later history of the play is not without its points of 
interest. It appears to have been performed on Sunday, 27th 
September, 1631, in the house of John Williams, 

Bishop of Lincoln. This peiformance on the 
Sabbath gave great offence to the Puritans, and 
there exist among Laud’s papers {Lambeth MS. 1030, arts. 
4 , 5) two documents referring to the matter. One is a letter 
of reproof from John Spencer, a l^urilanical preacher, to a 
lady who was amongst the audience. The other is a bur- 
lesque order or decree of this same John Spencer, condemn- 
ing the Bishop, and concluding as follows; “ Likewise wee 
doe order, that Mr. Wilson, because bee was a special! plotter 
and Contriver of this busines, and did in suche a brutishe 
manner acte the same with an Asses head, therefore bee shall 
uppon Tuisday next, from 6 of the Clocke in the Morning 
till sixe of the Clocke at night sitt in the Porters Lodge at 
my Lords Bishopps house with his feete in the stocks and 
Attyred with his Asse head, and a bottle of haye sett before 
him, and this superscripcion on his breast — 

‘Good people I have played ihc bca&t 
And brought ill things to passe 
I was a man» but thus have made 
Mysclfc a Silly Asse* 

Some later hand has written upon the document “the play 
L Night Dr.”, and one cannot doubt that this is correct.' 
After the suppression of the theatres, the play was abridged 
into a farce or droll, under the title of The Merry Conceited 
umours of Bottom the Weai'er^ which seems to have been 
acted in private. This was printed in 1661, and again 

I Spencer refers to the event in his Discourse 0/ Divers Petitions (1641), 
^P^aksof Wilson as ''a Cunning Musition”. I suppose he was Dr. 
i nn ilson whose Psnlterium Carolinum was published in 1657, and Cheerful 

^irs or Ballads \nxtfso. 



amongst other drolls in Kirkman’s IK/'/j, or Sport upon 
Sport (1672). The original play was restored to the stage 
at the Restoration, when Pepys saw it, and commented as 
follows, under the date Sept. 29, 1662:— “To the King’s 
Theatre, where we saw Midsummer-Night’s Dream, which I 
had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most 
insipid ridiculous play that ever 1 saw in my life”. In 1692 
it was converted into an opera, with music by Purcell, and 
numerous additional songs and other sophistications of the 
text. This and other adaptations continued to be acted until 
the present century, when a purer text was restored. Men- 
delssohn’s famous music was written in 1826, and performed 
at a revival of the play under the direction of Tieck at Berlin 
in the following year. 

The play occupies a considerable place in the history of 
fairy literature. To it and to the description of Queen Mab 
„ in The Merchant of Venice, Drayton’s Nym- 

I he mnucncc ... . • % % r r ± 

ofthe Play upon phidia, thc fair)' poems in Herricks Hespertaes 
Literature. Randolph’s Amyntas owe their inspiration. 

The figure of Robin Goodfellow became a popular one in 
ballad and chap-book. Besides thc prose Life of Robin 
Goodfellow (1628) there exist two or three ballads, one of 
which has been attributed without much authority to Ben 
Jonson. The same poet modelled upon A Midsummer- 
Nighfs Dream his Masque of Oberon, or the Satyr, Still 
earlier, the curious anonymous play of Narcissus, A Twelfth 
Night Merriment^ and W. Percy’s Fairy Pastoral, or Forest 
of Elves, in which Oberon is introduced,^ show marked 
traces of the same influence. Finally, Mr. Verity, in his 
admirable edition of the play, has called attention to the 
frequent reminiscences of it that are scattered through the 
poems of Milton.^ 

> See Appendix F. 

*This play was edited by Haztewood for the Roxburghe Club (1834) from a 
MS. at Alnwick Castle. 

8 There is a careful study of Shakespeare's imitators in C. C. Hense's Unitr* 
tuchungtn und Studitn {1884). See also Appendix A. 





So far as we know, Shakespeare was not indebted to any 
single model for tlie plot of A Midsuuuncr-Nii^ht' s Dream. 
It combines situations and motives gathered The Theseus 
from widely different sources, and welded to- '‘""'y- 
gether by the incomparable art of the poet. Put clearly the 
framework of the story, so far as it centres in Theseus, is 
adapted from the Knightes Tale of Chaucer. In the tale, 
as in the play, the action has its rise in the celebration of 
Theseus' wedding; there, too. the characters go forth to 
“doon their observance to May”, and there the theme of 
friendship broken across by love is illustrated in Palamon 
and Arcite, as here, though differently, in Hermia and Helena. 
Several slighter parallels of incident and phrase are recorded 
in the notes. ^ Other facts with regard to Theseus Shake- 
speare probably obtained from the Life of Theseus in Sir 
Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch's Lives (1579). I 
have thought it well to reprint all the passages from wiiich 
he appears to have borrowed anything in Appendix D.'-^ 

The story of Pyramus and Thisbe was a familiar one to 
Elizabethan readers. Shakespeare probably read it in Ovid’s 
Metamorphoses, iv. 55-166, or in the translation _ 

^ ’ The Pyramus 

01 that poem by Arthur Golding (i 565). Chaucer and Thisbe 
included the Legend of Thisbe of Babylo 7 t in his 
Legend of Good Wot)ien \ and the Stationers’ Registers for 
1562 record a license to William Greffeth “for pryntynge 
of a boke intituled Per\'mus and Thesbye”. A poem -on 
the subject in Clement Robinson’s A Handefull of Pleasant 
Delites (1584), by I. Thomson, has some verbal resemblances 

* Sec notes to i i. i6, 167: iii. *. 338: iv. i, 116: v. i. 51 The Knighles 
Tale had airc.ady been dramatized in Richard Edwardes’ Palatnon arid Arcite, 

U was afterwards by Fletcher, together, as many think, with Shakespeare 
hifDScIf, in The Tivo Noble /Ciusm^n, The relation of Shakespeare’s plot to that 
of Chaucer has been worked out by L. Proescholdt, Ofi the Sources of Mtd- 
iumftier-Night's Dream (1878', and B. Ten Brink in the JaJirlmch, xiii. 92. 

^Scc also Appendix I on the connection of Titania and 1 hc-‘>t;U-'>. 

(M 236) 



to Shakespeare’s burlesque. It will be found, with Golding^s 
version, in Appendix E. • 

Two sources have been suggested for the incident of the 
love-juice. In neither case, I think, is the suggestion ver>’ 
convincing. One is Chaucer’s Merchant's Tale^ in which 

The incident of Eluto and Proserpina, who answer as elf-king 
the Love-juice, j^^d elf-queen to Oberon and Titania, magically 

restore the sight of an old man, in order that he may witness 
his wife’s frailty.^ The other is an episode in the Spanish 
Diana Knamorada of the Portuguese Jorge de Montemayor 
(circ. 1512-62). In this a charm is used to transfer the affec- 
tions of an amorous shepherd from one object to another, 
much as the affections of Demetrius and Lysander are trans- 
ferred in the play.* The English translation of the Diana 
linamorada by Hartholomew Yong was not published until 
1 598, but in the preface it is stated to have been written sixteen 
years before, and therefore Shakespeare may have seen it in 
nanuscript. Further, a play called The History oj Felix and 
Phi/iotnena, whicli was probably founded on MontemayoPs 
romance, was acted at court in January, 1585. Whether in 
the original or in a translation, Shakespeare seems clearly to 
have used tlic Diana Fnamorada as a source for The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona. 

The sources of Shakespeare’s fair>’-lore are set out at 
length in Appendix A. 


A Mtdsummer-NighVs Dream is a dramatic fantasy rather 

ihc ch.'iracter ^ drama. It was written, in all probability, 

Cf.''Mlsque'yc't public Stage, but as an interlude in 

with ihc unity of the festivities of some wedding at court. The 
.1 central idc.-i. conditions of its production were those of the 

Masque, and to the limits imposed by those conditions it was 

* 1 here is complete account of the many versions of the Ic^nd in Dr. Georg 

Z?i> PyramM^und^Tfihtt Sag^a (Passau, Part i. 1889. Part il 1891). 

^ L. Proescholdt, o/. ri/., p. 19, 

• I* . KrausSp Quelle zu Sh. Sofumetytachlsintum (Jahrbuchj xi. aa6). 



bound to conform. Now the Masque, unlike the regular 
drama, was always presented with an abundance of scenery 
and stage accessories. It was light and amusing in character, 
making its principal appeal to the senses and the fancy of 
the audience. It had no need to touch the tleeper spiings of 
imagination, nor to win the attention of critical spectators. 
A profusion of dance and song, picturesque staging and pretty 
costumes, a sprinkling of courtly compliment, a piquant con- 
trast of poetry and clowning, these things were enough for 
the entertainment of the nol)les and the maids of honour who 
assembled at Gloriana’s palace of ( Ireenwich. 'I hese things, 
therefore, we find in full measure in the play. They give it 
its tone and dramatic character. ‘ Vet the poet being Shake- 
speare, we do not, as in a modern burlesque, find these thing.s 
and nothing more, h'or in Shakespeare the philosopher and 
the ])layu riglu go liand in hand ; he will not write merely to 
enchant the eye and delight the ear, nor merely for the excite- 
ment of a good ^story, but always and at all limes to utter 
forth the truth that is in him, to give dramatic form to signi- 
ficant ideas, ideas that arc a criticism of life. And therefore 
we may be sure that at the heart even of a dramatic fantasy 
by Shakespeare, there will lie some such central idea, which 
will give an inner meaning and unity to the whole, without 
disturbing the madness of the fun and frolic. For this is 
perhaps the consummation of his art, to be a thinker without 
being pedantic, and while handling the deep themes of con- 
duct and existence never to mount the stage in the inappro- 
priate garb of the pulpit. 

The vital question, then, for the student of A Miiisiaitincr- 
Night^s Dream is: What ditl the poet mean by it? What 

central idea, over and above the poetrv and the ... 

^ , lheCentr.ll 

sensuous charm of the presentment, does it idcaof the Play 

contain? We have seen that the plays which 

fall nearest to this in point of date are Richard the Second^ 

1 Probably there wxs even more singing .md dancing in the play than the 
pnntcd text indicates. See, e.g., the note on v. i 386. I .suspect, moreover, 
that the rhymed trochaic speeches assigned to the fairies were sung or given a* 



The Tivo Genilemen of Verona^ and Romeo and Juliet. In 
these we find the young poet concerning himself with the two 
subjects of perpetual interest to youth, Politics and Love. 
He has begun that great trilogy in which, under the guise 
of history, he purposed to deal with the central problem of 
politics as these presented themselves to a subject of the 
Tudors, the problem of the relation of king to people. Nega- 
tively in Richard the Second and Henry the Fourth^ positively 
in Henry the Fifthy he works out, as Plato might have worked 
out, if lie had written dramas, his conception of the essential 
nature of the genuine king.* Of his preoccupation with this 
theme we cannot but find a trace in our play in the character 
of Theseus, so obviously a sketch for the more finished picture 
of Henry the Fifth, the broadly human king, the man of 
deeds not words, not too finely tempered to be in touch with 
his people, and in whom we recognize the leading features 
of Shakespeare’s ideal of sovereignty. Hut the character of 
Theseus is only a side issue in A Midsummer- Night^s 
Dream : it is not tlicre that we look for the key-note of the 
play. Outside the sphere of the Histories, we find Shake- 
speare at this time particularly absorbed in what, to all poets 
in all ages, has been more tluin the half of life, in the theme 
of love. It fills comedy and tragedy alike. In The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona he deals with the conflict in a life of 
the rival claims of love and friendship, a motive which, if we 
may trust the evidence of the SonnetSy had had for him al- 
ready its intimate and personal application. This motive also 
recurs in A M idsummer-Night^s Dreanty and to this we must 

presently return ; but it is worth while first to look for a 
moment at Shakespeare’s dramatic treatment of love in the 
two of his great tragedies which have love for their burden. 

In Romeo and Juliety love is represented as 
the supreme power, imperious and resistless in 
its oncoming, which lays hold of two lives, and 
exalts them almost in a moment to the highest 
pitch of dignity of which human nature is 

T)ic Tragic 
treatment of 
Love in Romfo 
nnd yulitt and 
in Autopty and 

. ^ Sec the introduction to my edition of Ruhard /A in the Falcon Seriej of the 



capable. Of a boy and a gni it makes a man and a woman ; 
it purifies and glorifies, reconciles and redeems; and is strong 
even from the grave to compose the ashes of an ancient feud. 
I his is what Browning calls “ One way of love’. “Another 
way” Shakespeare ventured to paint, some ten years later, 
in Anfony and Cleopatra, the love that instead of elevating 
destroys, that by subtle sorceries ensnares to its undoing the 
conscience and the energies of a mighty spirit. 

Now these two tragedies, though not written together, are 
complementary to each other: they both treat of love as an 
extremely serious thing, of high significance for i,ovc and tiic 
life, and closely interwoven with destiny. For Comic spirit 
in the character of a man’s love, in its purity or its degrada- 
tion, lies ultimately the secret of his success or failure. But 
A Midsummer-Night's Dream is a comedy, and to the comic 
spirit this Proteus love betrays itself in quite another shape. 
It is no longer Dante’s ‘lord of terrible aspect’ with whom 
we have to do, but rather the roguish little Cupid of Ovid, 
the irresponsible child-god, with his blinded eyes and his 
erring arrows. “ Hast been in love?” says the young shep- 
herd to the old one in As You Like It, then — 

*' How many actions ntosi ridiculous 
Hast thou been drawn to by thy fantasy". 

Cove, as interpreted by the comic spirit, is a certain fine 
lunacy in the brain of youth; not an integral part of life, but 
a disturbing element in it. The lover is a being of strange 
caprices and strange infidelities, beyond the control of reason, 
and swayed with every gust of passion. He is at odds for 
the time with all the established order of things, a rebel 
against the auihority of parents, a rebel against friendship, 
a rebel against his owm vows. This is love as it figures in 
comedy, and in the presentation and analysis of this lies the 
point of A M idsummer-NiyhV s Dream. 

Bearing then in mind this central idea of the lawlessness 
and the laughableness of love, let us observe An.tlysis of the 
how carefully, for all the apparent whimsicality 
of structure, it is kept to the front in the working out of the 



play. As is generally the case with Shakespeare’s comedies, 
the plot is composed of several stories, which are woven 
together with remarkable ingenuity. There is the story of 
Theseus Wedding, the story of the Athenian Lovers, the story 
of the Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, the story of the Handi- 
craftsmen’s Play, and finally the story or interlude of Pyramus 
and Thisbe. It is the first of these which serves as the link 
that holds all the rest together; for it is at Theseus’ wedding 
that llermia’s fate is to be decided; it is to celebrate this 
that the fairies have come from the farthest steppe of India, 
and it is for this that Hottom and his fellows are painfully 
conning their interlude. Hut the most important story from 
the point of view of the central idea, and the one to which 

, , most space is devoted, is that of the Athenian 

The story of ihc , ^ , , • , • 

Aihcnmn Lovcrs. As I cn Hnnk has pointed out in his 

Lovers. excellent study of the play, the motive of this 

story IS varied from that of Chaucer’s Kuij^hte'S Tale. In the 
Knightes Tale the friendship of Palamon and Arcite is broken 
by their common love for Emilia. This corresponds very 
closely to the relation of Proteus and Valentine in The Tu>o 
Gentlemen of Verona. Hut both in The Two Gentlemen of 
Verona and in A Midsummer-Night's Dream Shakespeare 
has complicated the situation by introducing a second 
woman, and in A Midsummer-Night's Dream he has still 
further modified it by making the broken friendship that of 
the women, not that of the men. In this friendship broken 
by love we get, then, one illustration of the central idea. But 
there are others in the story. There is Hermia’s defiance of 
her father and of Athenian law for the sake of Lysander; and 
above all there is the extraordinary inconstancy which both 
Lysander and Demetrius display in the bestowal of their 
affections. Demetrius has deserted Helena for Hermia before 
the play begins; and in the course of the night in the wood, 
Lysander goes over to Helena and back to Hermia, and 
Demetrius in his turn goes back to Helena without any 

apparent rhyme or reason. Surely the central idea of the 
play is carried to a point that is almost farcical. At the crisis 



of the play, when the cross-purposes are at their maddest, one 
can only re-echo Puck’s criticism, 

Lord, wh.u fools these mortals be ! " 

Of course, Shakespeare’s treatment of his theme is s)’m- 
bolical, rather than psychological. In Romeo afid Juliet, he 
shows us the difterence which love makes, in the actual 
characters of the lovers as thev blossom out before us. Hut 
it is a commonplace that the lovers of M idsumDier-Ni^^ht' s 
Dream are but faintly sketched and barely differentiated. 
Helena is tall and dark and timid; llermia is little and 
fair and shrewish. Demetrius is crabbed and Lysander is 
languid. It is difficult to say much more. They are but the 
abstract Hes and Shes of the conventional love-stor>’. Hut 
this want of characterization is of little importance, because, 
which is by no means conventional, the story is told symboli- 
cally. The transferences of affection which form its principal 
revolutions arc represented as due to supernatural agency, to 
the somewhat randomly exercised power of the fairies. More- 
over, taking perhaps a hint from Lyly, Shakespeare invites us 
to consider the whole thing as a dream. I'his is the signifi- 
cance of the title. It is life seen through a glass darkly; 
such a vision of life as a man might have on .Midsummer 
Night, the one season of the year around which Elizabethan 
superstition gathered most closely, when herbs were believed 
to have their especial virtues, and strange beings to be 
abroad. And yet it is not all a dream, or, if a dream, it is one 
which passes very easily into actual life. For these incon- 
stancies of which Obcron’s‘love in idleness' is the cause, are 
after all not really different in kind from the initial inconstancy 
of Demetrius to Helena, for which no such reason is proposed. 
And again, when Demetrius is by magic restored to his first 
love, the effects of this continue on into the waking life as a 
quite natural thing which provokes no amazement. So that 
in fact, as far as the story of the lovers is concerned, 
the introduction of the supernatural element does not bring 
about anything which would have been impossible or impro- 
bable without it. The magical “love in idleness” really does 



nothing more than represent symbolically the familiar work- 
ings of actual love-in-idleness in the human heart. Boys in 
love change their minds just so, or almost just so, without any 
whisper of the fairies to guide them. Romeo left his Rosaline 
quite as suddenly as Lysander left his Hermia. 

It will help us to sec the point of the symbolism more pre- 
cisely, if we consider what use Shakespeare habitually makes 
of the supernatural in his plays. Always, as it appears to 
me, he uses it in much the same way, not with a literal faith 
in the personages or the acts which he depicts, but symboli- 
cally as a recognition of a mystery, of an unexplained element 
in the ordinary course of human .afiairs on earth. It is his 
confession of ignorance, of the fact that just there he has 
come upon something which baffles analysis, something 
ultimate, which is, but which cannot be quite accounted for. 
Thus in Macbeth the witches symbolize the double mystery 
of temptation and of retribution;* in The Tempest the magic 
of Rrospero and the spiritual forces which are at his beck 
and call symbolize the mystery of an overruling providence. 
Now, in A M iiisitmmer-NighT s Dream the mystery, so to 
call it, the inexplicability which is bound up with the central 
idea of the play, is the existence of that freakish irresponsible 
element of human nature out of which, to the eye of the 
comic spirit, the ethical and emotional vagaries of lovers t.ake 
their rise. And that this element docs exist is recognized 
and emphasized by Shakespeare in his usual way when he 
takes the workings of it in the story and explains them 
symbolically as due to the interference of supernatural 

Now in human life the disturbing clement ot love in idle- 
ness is generally only a passing fever. There is a period 
The story of Stio m utui Drattgy and then the man or 
'^c^eus’ woman begins to take life seriously, and is 

ready to submit to its discipline and to accept its 
reasonable responsibilities. And so by the side of Lysander 
and Demetrius we have the grave figure of the Athenian 
duke, Theseus. Theseus has had his wayward youth; he 

* See p. aa of my edition of Macbeth in this scries. 



has “played with light lovcb in the portal”, with Perigenia 
and Aegles and the rest, ay, and in the glimmering night 
even with Queen Titania herself. Moreover, in his passion 
for Hippolyta he has approached her through deeds of 
violence; he has “won her love, doing her injuries". Hut 
now, like the Henry the Fifth of whom he is a prototype, he 
has put away childish things; he stands forth as the serene 
law-abiding king, no less than the still loving and tender 
husband. Thus the story of Theseus’ Wedding not only, as 
has been said, serves to hold the plot together, but also con- 
tributes its share to the illustration of the central idea. 

When we turn to the Fairies, we find that what enters into 
human life only as a transitory disturbing element, is in them 
the normal law of their being. They are irresponsible crea- 
tures throughout, eternal children. They belong to the w inds 
and the clouds and the flowers, to all in nature that is beauti- 
ful and gracious and fleeting ; but of the characteristics by 
which man diflers from these, the sense of law and the instinct 
of self-control, they show no trace. Puck, the fairy jester, is 
the tricksy house sprite, whose sport it is to bring perplexity 
upon hapless mortals. Oberon and 'I'itania will be jealous 
and be reconciled to each other a dozen times a dav, while 
for culmination of their story you have the absurd spectacle 
of a fairy in love with an ass. So that in them is represented, 
as it w'ere in vacuo, the very cjualily of which it is the object 
of the play to discern the partial and occasional workings in 
the heart of humanity. 

In the story of the Handicraftsmen, the central idea does 
not find any direct illustration. The story is required, partly 
to introduce the interlude, but still more to provide that 
comic contrast which, as has been pointed out, was essential 
to the masque. It is ingeniously interwoven into the fairy- 
story by making Bottom the instrument of Oberon’s revenge 
upon Titania. And it is in the person of Bottom that the 
whole humour of the thing consists. He is the first of 
Shakespeare’s supreme comic creations, greater than the 
Costard of Lov^s Labour Lost or the Launce of The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona, as the masterpiece is greater than the 



imperfect sketch. From beginning to end of the play his 
absolute self-possession never for a moment fails him. He 
lords it over his fellow actors, as though he, and not 
Quince, were poet and stage-manager in one ; he accepts the 
amorous attentions of a queen with calm serenity as no more 
than he might naturally have expected ; nor does he ever, 
either before or after his transformation, betray the slightest 
suspicion of the fact that lie is after all only an ass. It has 
often been thought that in the rehearsal scenes Shakespeare 
was drawing upon the humours of such rustic actors as might 
have ventured a W’hilsun pastoral at Stratford upon Avon; 
yet one fears that the foibles of the green-room are much the 
same in the humblest and the loftiest walks of the profession, 
and who shall say that the poet is not poking good-humoured 
fun at some of his fellows of the Lord Chamberlain’s com- 

Finally, with the interlude, we come back to the central 
idea once more. For in the ill-st.irred loves of Pyramus and 
Thisbe, their assignation, their elopement, and their terrible 
end, we have but a burlesque presentment of the same theme 
that has occupied us throughout. It is all a matter of how 
the poet chooses to put it. Precisely the same situation that 
in Romeo and Juliet will ask our tears shall here move un- 
extinguishable laughter. And so the serious interest of the 
play dissolves in mirth, and while the musicians break into 
the exquisite poetry of the epithalamium, the playwright 
stands and watches us with the smile of wise tolerance on his 



Thrsbus, Duke of Athens. 
Egbus, father to Hermia, 

in love with Hermia. 

Lysander, *1 . 

Demetrius, / 

PiiiLOSTKATB, Master o1 the RevcU to Theseus- 
QuiNCR, a carpenter. 

Snug, a joiner. 

Botto.m, a weaver 
Flute, a bellows mender 
Snout, a tinker. 

STARVBLtNC, a tailor. 

Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus. 
Hermia. daughter to Egetrt. tn love with Lysander. 
Helena, in love with Demetrius. 

Odrrok. King of the fairies. 
Titania, Queen of the fairies. 
Puck, or Robin Goodfellow. 





Other fairies attending their King and Queen. Attendants on Theseus 

and Hippolyta. 

Place: Athene and axv<fcd ntar it. 

Time : %st day ^ Act i. 

'imi day^Aci iu^Act iV., Sc* i. 
•yrd day — Act iv. Sc. i. tc end. 



ACT' I. 

Scene I. Athetis. The palace Theseus. 

Enter T'heseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, and 


The. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour 
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in 
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow 
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires. 

Like to a step-dame or a dowager 

Long withering out a young man’s revenue. 

Hip. E’our days will quickly steep themselves in night; 
tour nights will (juickly dream away the time; 

And then the moon, like to a silver bow 

New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night lo 

Of our solemnities. 

The. Go, Philostrate, 

Stir up the Athenian youth to merriment; 

/ Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth: 

Turn melancholy forth to funerals; 

T he pale companion is not for our pomp. \Exit Philostrate. 
Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword, 

And won thy love, doing thee injuries; 



[Act 1 


But I will wed thee in another key. 

With pomp, with triumph and with revelling. 

Enter Egkus, IIkkmia, Evsander, and Demetrius. 

Ege. Happy be 'Fheseus, our renowned duke! 20 

The. 'I’hanks, good Egeus: what’s the news with thee? 
Ege. Full of vexation come 1, with complaint 
Against my child, my daughter Hermia. 

Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord, 

This man hath my consent to marry her. 

Stand forth, Lysander; and, my gracious duke, ^ 

'I'his man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child: 

'I'hou, tlipu, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes 
And interchanged love-tokens with my child; 

Tliou hast by moonlight at her window sung 3° 

'Vuh feigning voice verses of feigning love, ' 

And stolen the im[)ression of Iter lantasy . 

With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, concjeus, ' ^ 
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengers 
Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth: 

With cunning hast thou fdch’d my daughter’s heart, 

I’urn’d her obedience which is due to me, 

To stubborn liarshness: and, my gracious duke, 

He’t so she will not here before your grace 
Consent to marry with Demetrius, 

I beg the ancient privilege of Athens, » 

As she is mine, 1 may dispose of lier: y. 

Which shall be either to this gentleman 
Or to her death, according to our law 
Immediately jirovided in that case. 

The. What say you, Hermia? be advised, fair maid: 

To you your father should be as a god; q 

One that composed your beauties, yea, and one 
To whom you are but as a form in wax 


3 * 

By him imprinted and within his power 50 

lo leave the figure or disfigure it. 

Denjetrius is a worthy gentleman. 

Her. So is Lysander. 

In himself he is; 

But in this kind, w antin g your father’s voice, 

The other must be held the worthier. 

I Her. I would my father look’d but with my eyes 
The. Rather your eyes must with his judgment iook. 

Her. I do entreat your grace to pardon me. 

I know not by what power I am made bold, 

Nor how it may concern my modesty, 60 

In such a presence here to plead my thoughts; 

But I beseech your grace that I may know 
1 he worst that may befall me in this case. 

If I refuse to wed Demetrius. 

The. Either to die the death or to abjure 
f^or ever the society of men. 

1 herefore, fair Hermia, que^ion your desires : 

Know of your youth, examine well your blood, 

Whether, if you yield not to your father’s choice, 

You can endure the livery of a nun, 

For aye to be in shady cloister mew’d, 
lo live a barren sister all your life, 

Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon, 
rhrice-blessed they that master so their blood, 

To undergo such maiden pilgrimage; 

But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d. 

Than that which withering on the virgin thorn 
Grows, lives and dies in single blessedness. 

Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord. 

Ere I will yield my virgin pa^tent up 
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke 
My soul consents not to give sovereignty. 

The. Take time to pause; and, by the next new r 



> V 

V L 

, 1 ^.- 





The sealing clay betwixt my love and me, 

For everlasting bond of fellowship-— 

Upon that day either prepare to die 
For disobedience to your father's will, 

Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would; 

Or on Diana’s altar to protest ■ 

For aye austerity and single life. 

yje/fi. Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, )ield 

Thy cra/ed title to my certain right. 

Ays. You have her father’s love, Demetrius: 

Let me have Hermia’s; do you marry him. 

£g€. Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love, 
And what is mine my love shall render, him. 

And she is mine, and all my right of her 

I do estate unto Demetrius. *- - • 

Ays'll am, my lord, as well derived as he. 

As well possess’d; my love is more than his; 

My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d, ' ■ 

If not with„vantage, as Demetrius'; 

And, which is more than all these boasts can l>e, 

I am beloved of beauteous Hermia; 

Why should not I then pro^cule my right? b 
Demetrius, I ’ll avouch it to his head, t 
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena, 

And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes, 
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry, - - 

Upon this spoUed and inconstant man. 

T/it’. I must confess that I have heard so much. 
And with Demetrius thought to have si) c>ke thereof; 
Hut, being over-full of self-affairs, 

My mind did lose it. Hut, Demetrius, come; 

And come, Egeus; you shall go with me, 

I have some private schooling for you both. 

For you, fair Hermia, look you arm purself 
To fit your fancies to your feathers will; 



1 10 



Or else the law of Athens yields you up — 

^^hich by no means we may extenuate — ■ 12<J 

lo death, or to a vow of single life. 

Come, my Hippolyta: what cheer, my love? 

Demetrius and Egeus, go along: 

1 must employ you in some business 
Agains t our nuptial and confer with you 
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves. 

With duty and desire we follow you. 

[£.xeufi/ all but J.ysauJer and Hcrmia, 
f-ys. How now, my love! why is your cheek so pale? 

How chance the roses there do fade so last? 

Belike for want of rain, which I could well 130 
Beteem them from the temjjcst of my eyes. 

lys. Ay me! for aught that I could ever read, 

Could ever hear by tale or history, 

I he course of true love never did run smooth; 

But, either it was different in b]ood, — 

\dier. O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low. 

^ys. Or else misgraffed in respect of years, — . 

O ^ite! too old to be engaged to young. 

Lys. Or else it st ood u pon the choice of friends, — 

O hell! to choose love by another’s eyes. 140 

Lys. Or, if there were a sympathy in choice, 

War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it. 

Making it momentany as a sound, 

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream ; 

Brief as the lightning in the collicd night, 

1 hat, in a spjeen, unfolds both heaven and earth. 

And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’ 

The jaws of darkness do devour it up: 

So quick bright things come to confusion. ^ 

Her. If then true lovers have been ever cross’d. 150 

It stands as an edict in destiny: 

Then let us teach our trial patience, 

(U 236) 




[Act 1 

Because it is a customary cross, i 
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs, 

Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers. 

/,js. A good persuasion : therefore, hear me, Hermia. 

I have a widow aunt, a dowager 
Of great revenue, and she hath no child; 

From Athens is her house remote seven leagues; 

And she respects me as her only son. 

There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee; 

And to that place the sltarp Athenian law 
Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then, 

Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night;.^ 

And in the wood, a league without the town, 

Where I did meet thee once with Helena, 

T o do observance to a morn of May, 

There will I stay for thee. 

My good Lysander! 

I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow. 

By his best arrow with the golden head, 

By the simj)licity of Venus’ doves. 

By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves, 

And by that fn-e which burn’d the Carthage queerv^^ 
When the false Troyan under sail was seen, 

By all the vows that ever men have broke, 
j In number more than ever w'oman spoke. 

In that same place thou hast appointed me, 

T’o-morrow truly will I meet with thee. 

Lys. Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena. 


EnUr Helena. 



Her. God speed fair Helena! whither away? 

HeL Call you me fair? that fair again unsay. 
Demetrius loves your fair; O happy fair! 

Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air 




More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear. 

When wheat is green, when hawthorn biuls appear. 

Sickness is catching: O, were favour so, 

Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go: 

My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye, 

My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody. 

^^ere the worki mine, Demetrius being bated, 190 

The rest I Td give to be to you translated. 

O, teach me how you look, and with what art 
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart. 

Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me still. 

Hel. O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill! 
Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love. 

Hel. O that my prayers could such affection move! 

Her. 'The more I hate, the more he follows me. 

Hel. The more I love, the more he liateth me. 

Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine. • 200 

Hel. None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine! 
Her. Take comfort: he no more shall see my face, 
Dysander and myself will fly this place, 
before the time I did Tysander see, 

Seem’d Athens as a paradise to me: 

\ O, then, what graces in my love do dwell, 

' I hat he hath turn’d a heaven unto a hell! 

/■ys. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold: 

I o-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold 

Her silver visage in the watery glass, 210 

Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass, 

A time that lovers’ flights doth still conceal, 

Through Athens’ gates have we devised to steal. 

Her. And in the wood, where often you and I 
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie, 

Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet. 

There my Lysander and myself shall meet; 

And thence from Athens turn away our eyes, 


[Act 1 


To seek new friends and stranger companies. 

Farewell, sweet playfellow; pray thou for us; 220 

And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius! 

Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight 
From lovers’ food till morrow deep midnight. 

Lys. I will, my Hermia. [Exit Hermia. 

Helena, adieu: 

As you on him, Demetrius dote on you! [Exit. 

llel. How happy some o’er other some can be! 

Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. 

But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so; 

He will not know what all but he do know: 

And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes, 23< 

So 1 , admiring of his qualities: 

Things base and vile, holding no quantity, 

Love can transpose to form and dignity: 

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; 

And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind: 

Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgement taste; 

Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste: 

And therefore is Love said to be a child, 

Because in choice he is so oft beguiled. 

As waggish boys in game themselves forswear, 24 

So the boy Love is perjured everywhere: 

For ere Demetrius look’d on Herinia’s eyne, 

He hail’d down oaths that he was only mine; 

And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt, 

So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt. 

I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight: 

Then to the wood will he to-morrow night 
Pursue her; and for this intelligence- 
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense: 

But herein mean I to enrich my pain, 2 

To have his sight thither and back again. 




Scene 2j 



Scene II. Athens. Quin'ce’s house. 

Enter Quince, Snug, Bottom, Elute, Snout, and 


Quin. Is all our company here? 

Bot. Ypu_\vere best to call them g ener ally, man by man, 
according to the s^rip. 

Quin. Here is the scroll of every man s name, which is 
thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before 
the duke and the duchess, on his wedding-day at night. 

Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say wliat the play treats on, 
thci^ read the names of the a< tors, and so grow to a point. 

Quin. iVlarry, our play is, 'i'he most lamentable comedy, 
and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby. lo 

Bot. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. 
Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. 
Masters, spread yourselves. 

Quin. Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver. 

Bot. Ready. Name what part I am for, and i)roceed. 

Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus. 

Bot. What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant? 

Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love. 

Bot. 'That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: 
if I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; 1 will move 
storms, I wilQcondole in some measure. To the rest: yet 
my chief humour is for a tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, 
or a part to Uiar a cat in, to make all split. 23 

The raging rocks 
And shivering shocks 
Shall break the locks 
Of prison gates; 

And Phibbus’ car 
Shall shine from far 

And niake and_niar 3° 

, The foolish Fates. 


This was lofty! " Now name the rest of the players This is 
Ercles’ vein, a tyrant's vein ; a lover is more condoling. 

Quin. Francis Flute, ’the bellows-mender. 

Flu. Here, Peter Quince. 

Quin. Flute, you must take Thisby on you. 

Flu. What is Thisby? a wandering knight? 

Quin. It is the lady that Pyramus must love. 

Flu Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have a beard 
■ f 40 

Qitin. That ’s all one ; you shall play it in a mask, and you 

may speak as small" as you will. 

Hot. An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby *^ 0 °* ^ “ 
speak in a mons^us little voice, ‘Thisne, Thisne ; Ah 
Pyramus, my lover dear! thy 'Thisby dear, and lady dear! 
Quin. No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, tlute, you 


Bot. Well, proceed. 

Quin Robin Starveling, the tailor. 

Star. Here, Peter Quince. k 5° 

Quin. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisb/s nether. 

Tom Snout, the tinker. 

Snout Here, Peter Quince. y 

Quin. You, Pyramus’ father: mysell, T hisb/s father. 

Snug, the jo^r; you, the lion’s part: and, I hope, here is a 

play fitted. . , 

Snug. Have you the lion’s part written? pray you, it it De, 

give it me, for I am slow ot study. ^ 

Ouin. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roar- 
. ^ 60 

Bot. Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will do 
any man’s heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will 
make the duke say, “Let him roar again, let him roar * 

Quin. An you should do it too terribly, you would fright 
the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and that 

were enough to hang us alL 



A//. That would hang us, every mother's son. 

Bof. I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the 
ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion 
but to hang us: but I will aggravate my voice so that I will 
roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you an 
't were any nightingale. 7 2 

Quift. You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is 
a sweet-faced man; a proper man, as one shall see in a 
summer’s day; a most loTely gentleman-like man: therefore 
you must needs play Pyramus. 

Bof. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to 
play it in? 

Quin. Why, what you will. 

B(ff. I will discharge it in either ycmr straw-colour beard, 
vour orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your 
f ret ich-cro wn-coloiir beard, your perfect yellow. H 2 

Qtihi. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and 
then you will play barefaced. But, masters, here are your 
parts: and I am to entreat you, request you and desire you, 
to them by to- morro w night; and meet me in the palace 
wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight; there will we 
rehearse, for if we meet in the city, we shall be digged with 
company, and our deyjces Fnown. In the meantime I will 
^ draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. I pray you. 
fail me not. 9^ 

Bo/. We will meet; and there we may rehearse most^ob- 
yenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu. 

Quin. At the duke’s oak we meet. 

Bo/. Enough; hold or cut bow-strings. [Bxouu/. 



[Act II 


<K v'' 

f-"0 ''"‘t 

/u,U t© 

fS {* ■ 


Scene I. A wood near Athens. 

Enter from opposite stdes^ a I* airy, and 1 UCK. 

Puck. Mow now, spirit! whitlicr wander you? 

Eai. Over hill, over dale, 

'I'horough bush, thorough brier, 

Over park, over pale, 

Tliorough flQod, thorough fire, 

I do wander every where. 

Swifter than the mooij^s sphere; 

And I serve the fairy cpieen, " ‘ 

'I'o dew her orbs upon the green. 

The cowslips tall her pensioners be: 

In their gold coats spots you see; 

T hose be rubies, fairy favours, ^ 

In those frvrHlt-'s 'tve their sajvours.: 

1 must go Veek some dewdrops here 
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear. \ 

Karewell, thou lob of spirits; 1 ’ll begone: (* 

Our (pieen and all her elves come here anon. 

Puck. T he king doth keep his revels here to-night: 

Take heed the queen come not within his sight; 

For Oberon is passing fell and wrath, / 

Because that she as her attendant hath 
A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king; 

She never had so sweet a changeling; 

And jealous Oberon would have the child 
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild; \x\ 

But she perforce withholds the loved boy. 

Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy: 

And now they never meet in grove or green, 

By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen, 



Scene i] 

A midsummi-k-xiCtHTS dream. 


But they do scjuare, tliat all their elves for fear 30 

Creep into acorn-cups, and hide them there. 

Fai. Hither I mistake your shape and making quite, 

Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite 
Call’d Robin Cloodfellow; are not you he 
'I'hat frights the maidens of tlie villagery; 

Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the (juern 
And bootless make the breathless housewile churn; 

/“Uid sometime make the drink to bear no barm: ’■ 

Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their hmm? 

Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet I’uck. 4^ 

You do their work, and they shall have good luck: 

Are not you he? 

'Thou speak'st aright; 

1 am that merry wanderer oX_lhe night. 

I jest to Oberon and make him smile 
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, 

Neighing in likeness of a fi^lly foal: 

And sometime lurk I in a go:^i3)’s bowl, 

< In very likeness of a roasted crab, 

And when she drinks, against her lips I bob, 

And on her wither’d dewlap pour the ale. 5 ^ 

cU'- The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, 

' "" Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me; 

Then slip I from her, then down topples she, 

And “tailor” cries, and falls into a cough; 

And then the whole puire hold their hips and laugh, 

And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear 
A merrier hour was never wasted there. 

But, room, faery! here comes Oberon. 

fai. And here my mistress. Would that he were gone! 



[Act II 

Enter, from one side, Obkkon, ivith his train; from the other, 

'I'lTANiA, With hers. 

Obe. Ill met by moonlight, jiroud Titania. 

Tita. What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence; 

I have forsworn his bed and company. 

Obe. Tarry, rash wanton: am not 1 thy lord? 

Tita. I'hen I must be thy lady: but I know 
When thou hast stolen away from fairy land, 

And in the shape of Corin sat all day, 

Playing on pipes of corn and versing love 
T’o amorous Phillida. Why art thou here. 

Come from the farthest steppe of India? 
but that, forsooth, the bojjncing Amazon, 

Your buskin’d mistress and your warrior love, 

'I'o I'heseus must be wedded, and you come 
To give their bed joy and prosperity. 

Obe. Mow canst thou thus for shame, Titania, 
(ilance at my credit with Hippolyta, 

Knowing I know thy love to Theseus? 

Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night 
From Perigcnia, whom he ravished? 

And make him with fair Aegles break his faith, 

With Ariadne and Antiopa? 

7'ita. These are the forgeries of jealousy: 

And never, since the middle summer’s spring. 

Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead, 

By paved fountain or by rushy brook, 

Or in the beaclied margent of the sea, 

'I'o dance our ringlets ^ the whistling wind. 

But with thy bmwls thou hast disturb’d our sport. 
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, Ci 
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea 
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land 
Hath every pelting river made so proud 



# V 

I II ». (Tc 

< . 

70 i 





Thai they have overborne their continents; 

The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain, 
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn 
Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard; 

The fold stands empty in the drowned lield, 

And crows are fatted with the inurrion flock; 

The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud, 

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green 
For lack of tread are undistinguishable : 

The human mortals want their winter here. 

I No night is now' with hymn or carol blest; 
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods, 

Pale in her anger, washes all the air. ^ 

That rheumatic diseases do abound: 

And thorough this distemperature we see 
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts 
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose. 

And on old Hiems’ diin and icy crown 
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds 
Is, as in mocke'fy,*set : the spring, the summer, 
The childing autumn, angry winter, change 
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world, 

By their increase, now know's not which is which - 
And this same progeny of evils comes 
From our debate, from our dissension; 

We are their parents and original. 

Obe. Do you amend it then; it lies in you: 
Why should d'itania cross her Oberon? 

I do but beg a little changeling boy. 

To be my henchman. 

Tita. Set your heart at rest: 

The fairy land buys not the child of me. 

His mother was a votaress of my order: 

And, in the spiced Indian air, by night, 

Full often hath she gossip’d by my side, 



[Act 11 

And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands, 

Marking the embarked traders on the flood, 

When we have laughed to see the sails conceive 
And grow big-bellied with the wan^n wind; 

Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait 13c 

Following, — her womb then rich with my young squire,— 

Would imitate, and sail upon the land, 

To fetch me trifles, and return again, 

As from a voyage, rich with merchandise. 

Hut she, being mortal, of that boy did die; 

And for her sake do I rear up her boy, 

And for her sake I will not part with him. 

Obf. How long within this wood intend you^stay? 

Tita. Perchance till after Theseus’ wedding-day. 

If you will paUijntly dance in our round 140 

And see our moonlight revels, go with us; 

If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts. 

Obe. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee. 

Tita. Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away! 

We shall chide downright, if 1 longer stay. 

■ * \^Exit Titania “ivith her trmn. 

Obe. Well, go thy way: thou shall not from this grove 
'['ill I torment thee for this injury. 

My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remcmberest 
Since once 1 sat upon a j)romontory. 

And heard a mermaid on a djolphin’s back 150 

Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath 

That the jude sea grew civil at her song 

.‘\nd certain stars shot madly from their spheres, 

To hear the s_ea-maid’s music. 

Puck. I remember. 

I Obe. 'I'hat very time I saw', but thou couldst not, 

Flying between the cpldmoon and the earth, ^ 

(!upid all arm’d: a certain aim he took tf i;... ^ 

At a fair vestal throned l^y the west, % 


• ' A 



And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow, 

As it shpijld pierce a hundred thousand hearts; lOo 

But I mi^ht see young Cupid’s fiery sliaft 
Quench’d TrTthe chaste beams of the watery moon, 

And the irnperial votaress passed on, 

In maiden meditation, fancy-free. 

Vet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell: 

It fell upon a little western Bower, 

Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound, 

And maidens call it love-in-idleness. 

fetch me that Bower; the herb I show d thee once: 

The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid 
Will make or man or woman madly dote 
Upon the next live creature that it sees. 

Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again 
Ere the leviathan can swim a league. 

Puck. I ’ll put a girdle round about the earth 
In forty minutes. ^ i \Exit. 

Obe. Hav ing o nce this juice, 

I ’ll watch Titania when she is asleep, 

And drop the liquor of it in her eyes. 

The next thing then she waking looks upon, 

Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull, 

On meddling monkey, or on _busy ape, 

She shall pursue it with thc^oul of love: 

And ere 1 take this charrn from olf her sight, 

As I can take it with another herb, 

I 11 make her render up her page to me. 

But who comes here? I am invisible; 

And I will overhear their con[erence. 

Enter Demetrius, Helen.^ foilotvin^ him. 

Dem. I love thee not, therefore pursue me noU 
Where is Lysander and fair Hermia? 

7 r * 


'I'he one I Ml slay, the other slayeth me. JQO 

Thou told’st me they were stolen unto this wood; 

And here am I, and wode within this wood, - ; 

Because 1 cannot meet my Hermia. ^ ^ ^ 

Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more. 

Hel. You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant; ^ 

But yet you draw not iron, for my heart ‘ ■ “*‘3^ 


Is true as steel: leave you your power to draw, 

And 1 shall liave no power to follow you. 

Dem. Do 1 entice you? do 1 speak you jmr? 

Or, rather, do 1 not in plainest truth 
'i'ell you, I do not, nor 1 cannot love you? 

Ild. And even for that do 1 love you the more. 

I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius, 

'I'he more you beat me, I will fawn on you : 

Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me, 
Neglect me, lose me ; only give me leave, 

'Unworthy as I am, to follow you. 

What wo^r place can 1 beg in your love,— 

And yefa place ot high respect with me, — 

'I'han to be used as you use your dog? 

JJnn. I'empt not too much the hatred of my spirit, 

For I am sick when I do look on thee. 

HeL And I am sick when I look not on you. 

Dim. You do impeach your modesty too much, 

To leave the city and commit yourself 
Into the hands of one that loves you not; ^ 

To trust the opportunity of night 
And the ill counsel of a desert place 
With the rich worth of your virginity. 

Hel. Your virtue is my privilege for that; j 
It is not night when 1 do see your face, 

'I'herefore I think I am not in the night; 

Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company, 

For you in my respect are all the world; 





w vV 


».cv y 




Then how can it be said I am alone, 

When all the world is here to look on me? 

Dem. I ’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes, 

And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts. 

HeL The wildest hath not such a heart as you. 

Run when you will, the story shall be changed: 230 

Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase; 

The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind 
Makes speed to catch the tiger; bootless speed, 

When cowardice pursues and valour flies. 

Dem. I will not ^y thy questions; let me go: 

Or, if thou follow me, do not believe 
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood. 

HeL Ay, in the temide, in the town, the field. 

You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius! 

Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex: ^ 4 *^ 

We cannot fight for love, as men may do; 

We should be woo’d and were not made to woo. [Exit Dem 
I ’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell. 

To die upon the hand I love so well. [Exit. 

' ^Obe. Fare thee well, nymph: ere he do leave this grove, 

‘ Thou shalt fly him and he shall seek thy love. 



Re enter PuCK. 

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer. 

Puck. Ay, there it is. 

Obe. I pray thee, give it me. 

I know a bank where the w’ild thyme bhnvs, - 

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, 250 

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, 

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine: 

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, 

Lull’d in these flowers with dajices and delight; 

And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin, 


Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in ; 

XTid^vith the juice of this I ’ll streak her eyes, ' 

And make her full of hateful fantasies.^ 

Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove: 

A sweet Athenian lady is in love ^ ° 

With a disdainful youth; anoint his eyes; 

But do it when the next thing he espies tbe lady; thou shaft know the man ^ 

Jiy the Athenian garments he hath on. 

Effect it with some care that he may £roye 

More fond on her than she upon her love; 

And lool^ thou meet me ere the first cock crow. 

ruck, hear not, my lord, your servant shall do so. 


Scene II. Atwther part oj the wood. 

Enter Th ania, with her train. 

Tita. Come, now a roundel and a fairy song; 
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence; 

Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds, 

Some war with rete-mice for their leathern wings, 

To make my small elves coals, and some keep back 
The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders 
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep; 

Then to your offices and let me rest. 

The Paines sing. 


You spotted snakes with double tongue, 
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen ; 

Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong, 

Come not near our fairy queen. 

Philomel, with melody 
Sing in our sweet lullaby : 

Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby: 



Never harm, 

Nor spell nor charm, 

Come our lovely lady nigh; 

So, good night, with lullaby. 

Weaving spiders, come not here; 2 

Hence, you long-legg’d s[)inners, hence! 

Beetles black, approach not near; 

Worm nor snail, do no ofience. 

Philomel, with melody, &c. 

A Fairy. Hence, away! now all is well’ 

One aloof stand sentinel. 

\ILxeiint Fairies. Titama sleeps. 

Filter Oberon, and squeezes the jiotver on TitanuPs eyelids, 

Obe. What thou seest when thou dost wake, 

Do it for thy true love take, 

Love and languish for his sake: 

Be it ounce, or cat, or bear, 

Pard, or boar with bristled hair, 

In thy eye that shall appear 
When thou wakest, it is thy dear: 

Wake when some vile thing is near. [F 

Enter Lys.\NDER and Hermi.a. 

Lys. Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood: 
And to speak troth, I have forgot our way: 
We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good. 

And tarry for the comfort of the day. 

Her. Be it so, Lysander; find you out a bed; 

For I upon this bank will rest my head. 

Lys. One turf shall serve as pillow for us both ; 

One heart, one bed, two bosoms and one troth. 

Her. Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my dear, 

Lie further off yet, do not lie so near. ^ 

(U 236) 




Lys. O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence 1 
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference. 

I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit 

So that but one heart we can make of tt; ^ 

Two bosoms interchained with an oath ; ' ■ ^ ^ • 

So then two bosoms and a single UQib- 5° 

'I'hen by your side no bed-room me deny; 

For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie. 

Her. Lysander riddles very prettily: 

Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,., 

If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied. 

But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy further off; in human modesty. 

Such separation as may well be said 

Jiecomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid. 

So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend: o 

Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end! 

Lys. Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I ; 

And then end life when I end loyalty! 

Here is my bed: sleep give thee all his rest! 

Her With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be press d 

{They sleep 

Enter Puck. 

Puck. Through the forest have 1 gone, 

But Athenian found I none, 

On whose eyes I might approve 1* " 

This flowePs force in stirring love. 

Night and silence.— Who is here? 7° 

Weeds of Athens he doth wear; 

This is he, my master said, 

Despised the Athenian maid; 

And here the maiden, sleeping sound. 

On the dank and dirty ground. 

Pretty soul! she durst not lie 


Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy. 

Churl, upon thy eyes I throw 
All the power this charm doth owe. 

When thou wakest, let love forbid 80 

Sleep his seat on thy eyelid; 

So awake when I am gone; 

For I must now to Oberon. [Exit. 

Enter Demetrius and Helena, running. 



Hel. Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius. 

Dem. I charge thee, hence, and do not haunt me thus. 
Net. O, wilt thou darkling leave me? do not so. 

J)cm. Stay, on thy peril: I alone will go. 

He/. O, I am out of breath in this fond chase! 

I'he more my prayer, the lesser is my grace. 

Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies; 

For she hath blessed and attractive eyes. 

How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears 
If so, my eyes are oftener wash’d than hers. 

No, no, I am as ugly as a bear; 

For beasts that meet me run away for fear: 

Therefore no marvel though Demetrius 
Do, as a monster, fly my presence thus. 

What wicked and dissembling glass of mine 
Made me compare with Hermia's sphery eyne? 

But who is here? Lysander! on the ground! 

Dead? or asleep? I see no blood, no wound. 

Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake. 

Lys. [Awaking] And run through fire I will for thy sweet 


Transparent Helena! Nature shows art, 

That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart. 

Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word 
Is that vile name to perish on my sword! 



[Act II 


Hel. Do not say so, Dysander ; say not so. 

W'hat though he love your Hermia? I--ord, what though? 

Vet Hermia still loves you: then be content. no 

I.ys. Content with Hermia! No; I do repent 
The tedious minutes I with her have spent. 

Not Hermia but Helena I love: 

Who will not change a raven for a dove? 

The will of man is by his reason sway’d; 

And reason says you are the worthier maid. 

Things growing are not ripe until their season: 

So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason; 

And touching now the point of human skill, 

Reason becomes the marshal to my will 120 

And leads me to your eyes, where I pyrlo ok 
I.ove’s stories written ii^ love’s richest book. 

Hel. Wherefore was 1 to this keen mockery born? 

When at your hands did 1 deserve this scorn? 

Is’t not enough, is ’t not enough, young man, 

'I'hat I did never, no, nor never can. 

Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius’ eye, 

Hut you must flout my insuthciency ? 

Cood troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do, 

In such disdainful manner me to woo. 130 

Hut fare you well: perforce I must confess 
I thought you lord of more true gentleness. 

O, that a lady, of one man refused, ^ 

Should of another therefore be abused ! 

Lys. She sees not Hermia. Hermia, sleep thou there: 
And never mayst thou come Lysander near! 

For as a surfeit of the sweetest things 
The deepest loathing to the stomach brings, 

Or as the heresies that men do leave 

Are hated most of those they did deceive, 140 

So thou, my surfeit and my heresy, 

Of all be hated, but the most of me! 



And, all my powers, address your love and might 
lo honour Helen and to be her knight! \ExiL 

Her. [Awaking Kelp me, Lysander, help me! do thy best 
To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast! 

Ay me, for pity! what a dream was here! 

Lysander. look how I do quake with fear: 

Methought a serpent eat my heart away, 

And you sat smiling at his cruel prey. 150 

Lysander! what, removed? Lysander! lord! 

What, out of hearing? gone? no sound, no word? 

Alack, where are you? speak, an if you hear; 

■Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear. 

No? then 1 well perceive you are not nigh. 

Either death or you I ’ll find immediately. [Exit 


Scene I. The wood. Titania lying asleep. 

Enter Quince, Snug. Bottom, Flute, Snout, and 


Bot. Ar we all met? 

Qntn. Pat, pat; and here’s a marvellous convenient place 
for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this 
hawthorn-brake our^ing-house; and we will do it in action 
^we will do it before the duke. 

Bot. Peter Quince, — 

Qnin. What sayest thou, bully Bottom? 

Bot. There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and 
Thisby that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a 
2 Word to kill himself; which the ladies cannot a_bide. How 

answer you that? ' ' n 

Snout. By ’r lakin, a parlous fear. ‘ 


S/(ir. I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is 

/>W. Not a whit: I have a device to make all well. Write 
me a prologue; and let the prologue seem to say, we will do 
no harm with our swords and tha» Pyranius is not killed 
indeed; and, for the more better assurance, tell them that I 
Pyramus am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: thi® will 
put them out of fear. 20 

Quin. Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be 
written in eight and six. 

Bot. No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and 
eiuht. ‘ I 

.Snout. Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion? 

Star I fear it, I promise you. 

Bot. Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves: to 
bring in — (iod shield us! — a lion among ladies, is a most 
dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful wjld-fowl than 
your lion living; and we ought to look to 't. 30 

.Snout. 'Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a 

Jiot. Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must 
be seen tiirough the lion’s neck: and he himself must speak 

through, saying thus, or to the same defect, — * Kadies,’ — or 
‘ Pair ladies, I would wish you,’ — or ‘ I would request you,’ 

— or ‘ 1 w'ould entreat you, — not to fear, not to tremble: my 
life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were 
pity of my life: no, 1 am no such thing; I am a man as 
other men are;’ and there indeed let him name his name, 

and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner. 41 

Quin. Well, it shall be so. But there^is two hard things; 
that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for, you know, 
Pyramus and 'Thisby meet by moonlight. 

Snout. Doth the moon shine that night we play our play.'* 
Bot. A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanac; find 

out moonshine, find out moonshine. 



Quin. Yes, it doth shine that night. 

Bot. Why, then may you leave a casement of the great 
chamber window, where we play, open, and the moon may 
shine in at the casement. 51 

Quin. Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns 
and a lanthorn, and says he comes to 4jsrigure, or to present, 
the person of Moonshine, 'bhen, there is another thing: we 
must have a wall in the great chamber; for Pyramus and 
Thisby, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall. 

Snout. You can never bring in a wall. What say you, 

Bot. Some man or other must present Wall: and let him 
have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough-cast about 
him, to signify wall; and let him hold his fingers thus, and 
through that cranny shall Pyramus and T'hisby whisper. 62 
Quin. If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, 
fivery mother’s son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you 
begin when you have spoken your speech, enter into that 
brake: and so every one according to his cue. 

E 7 iter Puck behind. 

Puek. What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering 

bo near the cradle of the fairy queen? 

What, a play toward! I’ll be an auditor; 

An actor too perhaps, if I see cause. 7 ° 

Quin. Speak, Pyramus. Thisby, stand forth. 

Bot. Thisby, the flo'vers of odious savours sweet, — 

Quin. Odorous, odorous. 

Bot. odours savours sweet : 

So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear. 

But hark, a voice! stay thou but here awhile, 

And by and by I will to thee appear. Exit. 

Buck. A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here. [Exit 



Flu. Must I speak now? 

Quin. Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he 
goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again. 
Flu. Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue, 82 
Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier, 

Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew, 

As true as truest horse that yet would never tire, 

I ’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb. 

Quin. ‘ Ninus’ tomb ’, man : why, you must not speak that 
yet ; that you answer to Pyramus: you speak all your part at 
once; cues and all. Pyramus enter; your cue is past; it is, 
‘ never tire.’ 90 

Flu. O, — As true as truest horse, that yet would never 

■ i 

Re-enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass's head. 

Bat. If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine. 

Quin. O monstrous! O strange! we are hn.unted. Pray 
masters! fly, masters! Help! 

\E.xeunt Quince^ Snu^, Flute., Snout., and Starveling. 
Puck. I ’ll follow you, I ’ll lead you about a round. 
Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier 
Sometime a I ’ll be, sometime a hound, 

A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire; ' 

And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn. 

Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn. \Exit. 

Bot. Why do they run away? this is a knavery of them to 
make me afeard. 102 

Re-enter Snout. 

Snout. O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on 

Bot. What do you see? you see an a^^-head of your own, 
do you? \_jExit Snout. 



Re-enter Quin’CE. 

Quin. Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee I thou art translated. 


Bot. 1 see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to 
fright me, if they could. But 1 will not stir from this place, 
do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and 1 will 
sing, that they siiall hear I am not afraid. 

The ousel cock so black of hue, 1 

With orange-tawny bill, 

The throstle with his note so true, 
d'he wren with little cpiill, — 

Tita. \^Au'aking^ What angel wakes me from my llowcry 


'I'he finch, the sparrow and the lark, 

The plain-song cuckoo gray, 

Whose note full many a man doth mark, 

And dares not answer nay; — 120 

for. indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird? who 
would give a bird the lie, though he cry ‘cuckoo’ never so? 

Tita. I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again: 

Mine ear is much enamour’d of thy note; 

So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape ; 

And thy fair virtue’s force perforce doth move me 
On the first view to say, to swear I love thee. 

Bot. Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason foi 
that: and yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little 
company together now-a-days; the more the pity that some 
honest neighbours will not make them friends. Nay, I can 
gleek upon occasion. *3^ 

Tita. Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful. 

Bot. Not so, neither: but if I had wit enough to get out of 
this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn. 

Tita. Out of this wood do not desire to go: 



'I’hou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no. 

I am a spirit of no common rate: 

The summer still doth tend upon my state; ( , j 

And I do love thee: therefore, go with me; 140 

I ’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee, 

And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep, 

And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep: 

And I will purge thy mortal grossness so 
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go. 

Peaseblossom ! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed! 


Enter Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and 


Peas. Ready. 

Cob. And I. 

Aloih. And I. 

Mus. And I. 

w All. Where shall we go? 

^ Tita. Be kind and courteous to this gentleman; 

Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes; 

Feed him with apricocks and dewberries, 

With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries; 

The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees, 

And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs, 

And light them at the fiery glow-worm’s eyes, 

To have my love to bed and to arise; 

And pluck the wings from painted butterflies 
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes: 

Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies. 

Peas. Hail, mortal! 

Cob. Hail! 

Moth. Hail! 

Mus. Hail! 

Bot. I cry your worships mercy, heartily; I beseech your 
worship’s name. 161 




Cob. Cobweb. 

Bot. I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good Master 
Cobweb: if I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you. 
Vour name, honest gentleman? 

Peas. Peaseblossom. 

Bot. I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your 
mother, and to Master Peascod, your father, (iood Master 
Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance too. 
Your name, I beseech you, sir? 170 

Mus. Mustardseed. 

Bot. Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience 
'veil: that same cowardly, giant-like ox-beef hath devoured 
many a gentleman of your house : I promise you your kindred 
hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire your more ac- 
quaintance, good Master Mustardseed. 

Tita. Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower. 

The moon methinks looks with a watery eye; 

And when she weeps, weeps every little (lower, 

Eamenting some enforced chastity. 180 

Tie up my love’s tongue, bring him silently. 

Scene II. Another part of the wood. 

Enter Oberon. 

Obe. I wonder if Titania be awaked; 

Then, what it was that next came in her eye, 
Which she must dote on in extremity. 

Enter Puck. 

Here comes my messenger. 

How now, mad spirit! 

What night-rule now about this haunted grove? 



Puck. My mistress with a monster is in love. 

Near to her close and consecrated bower. 

While she was in her dull and sleeping hour, 

A crew of patches, rude mechanicals, ■ 

That work for bread upon Athenian stalls, lo 

Were met together to rehearse a ])lay 
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day. 

The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort. 

Who I’yramus presented, in their sporty 
Forsook his scene and enter’d in a brake: 

When I did him at this advantage take, 

An ass’s nole 1 fixed on his head: 

Anon his Thisbe must be answered, 

And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy, 

As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye, 20 

Or riisset-pated choughs, many in sort, 

Rising and cawing at the gun's report, 

Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky, 

So, at his sight, away his fellows fly; 

And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls; 

He murder cries and help from Athens calls. . ^ 

'Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong, 
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong; 

For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch; 

Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch. 30 
I led them on in this distracted fear, j. 

And left sweet Pyramus translated there: 

When in that moment, so it came to pass, 

I'itania waked and straightway loved an ass. 

Okc. This falls out better than I could devise. 

Hut hast thou yet latch’d the Athenian’s eyes 
With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do? 

Puck. I took him sleeping, — that is finish’d too. — 

And the Athenian woman by his side; 

1 hat, when he waked, of force she must be eyed. 




Enter Hermia a?td Demetrius 

Obe. Stand close: this is the same Atlienian. 

Puck. This is the woman, but not this the man. 

Dem. O, why rebuke you him that loves you so? 

Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe. 

Her. Now I but chide; but 1 should use thee worse, 

Foi Chou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse. 

If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep, 

Being o’er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep, 

And kill me too. 

The sun was not so true unto the day 5® 

As he to me: would he have stolen away 

Irom sleeping Hermia? I ’ll believe as soon 

This whole earth may be bored and that the moon 

May through the centre creep and so displease 

Her brother’s noontide with the Antipodes. 

I^cannot be but thou hast murder’d him; 

So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim. 

Dem. So should the murder’d look, and so should I, 
Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty: 

Vet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear, 6o 

As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere. 

Her. What’s this to my Lysander? where is he? 

Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me? 

Dem. I had rather give his carcass to my hounds. 

Her. Out, dog! out, cur! thou drivest me past the bounds 
Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him, then? 
Henceforth be never number’d among men ! 

L), once tell true, tell true, even for my sake! 

Hurst thou have look’d upon him being awake 

And hast thou kill’d him sleeping? O brave touch! /O 

Could not a worm, an adder, do so much? 

An adder did it; for with doubler tongue 
"Phan thine, thou serpent, never adder stung. 



Dein. You spend your passion on a misprised mood; 

I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood; 

Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell. 

Her. 1 pray thee, tell me then that he is well. 

Dem. An if I could, what should 1 get therefore P 
Jler. A privilege never to see me more. 

And from thy hated presence part I so; 8o 

See me no more, whether he be dead or no. \Dxtt. 

Dem. There is no following her in this fierce vein: 

Here therefore for a while 1 will remain. 

So sorrow’s heaviness doth heavier grow 

f-or debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe; 

Which now in some slight measure it will pay, 

If for his tender here I make some stay. 

y/Jes down and sleeps. 

Obe. What hast thou done? thou hast mistaken quite 
And laid the love-juice on some true-love’s sight; 

Of thy misprision must perforce ensue 9® 

Some true love turn’d and not a false turn’d true. 

Puck. 'Then fate o’er-rules, that, one man holding troth, 

A million fail, confounding oath on oath. 

Obe. About the wood go swifter than tlie wind, 

And Helena of Athens look thou find; 

All fancy-sick she is and pale of cheer. 

With sighs of love, that cost the fresh blood dear: ' , 

By some illusion see thou bring her here; 

I ’ll charm his eyes against she do appear f 
Puck. I go, I go; look how I go, 

Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow. 

Obe. Mower of this purple dye, 

Hit with Cupid’s archery. 

Sink in apple of his eye. 

When his love he doth espy, 

Lx.‘t her shine as gloriously 
As the Venus of the sky. 







When thou wakest, if she be by, 

Beg of her for remedy. 

Re-enter PuCK. 

Captain of our fairy band, iic 

Helena is here at hand, 

And the youth, mistook by me, 

Pleading for a lover’s fee. 

Shall we their fond pageant see? 

Lord, what fools these mortals be! 

Stand aside: the noise they make 
Will cause Demetrius to awake. 

Then will two at once woo one; 

That must needs be sport alone; 

And those things do best please me 120 

That befal preposterously. 

Enter LvSandkr and HELENA. 

Lys. Why should you think that I should woo in scorn? 
Scorn and derision never come in tears: 

Look, when 1 vow, I weep, and vows so born. 

In their nativity all truth appears. 

Hov; can these things in me seem scorn to you, 

Bearing the badge of faith, to i)rove them true? 

You do advance your cunning more and more. 

When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray! 

These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er? 130 

iVeigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weieh: 

/our vows to her and me, put in two scales, 

Will even weigh, and both as light as tales. 

I had no judgement when to her I swore. 

Edei. Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er. 
Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you. 

Dem. [A 7 i'a/!ing] O Helen, goddess, nymph. perfect, divine! 

To what my love, shall I compare thine eyne.'' 

Sc^ne 2 ] 






[Act ii: 

Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show 
'I'hy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow! 

That pure congealed white, high Taurus’ snow, 
Farm’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow 
When thou hoid’st up thy hand; O, let me kiss 
'1 his princess of pure white, this seal of bliss! 

//(•/. O spite! C) hell! I see you all are bent 
To set against me for your merriment: • o 
if you were civil and knew courtesy. 

You would not do me thus much injury. 

Can you not hate me, as I know you do, 

Hut you must join in souls to mock me too? 

If you were men, as men you are in show, 

You would not use a gentle lady so; 

To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts 
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts. 

You both are rivals, and love Hermia; 

And now both rivals, to mock Helena: 

A trim exploit, a manly enterprise. 

To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes 
With your derision ! none of noble sort 
Would so offend a virgin and extort 
A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport. 

Lys. You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so; 
F'or you love Hermia; this you know I know: 

And here, with all good will, with all my heart, 

In Hermia’s love I yield you up my part; 

And yours of Helena to me bc(]ueath, 

Whom I do love and will do till my death. 

Hel. Never did mockers waste more idle breath 
Dem. Tysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none: 
If e’er I loved her, all that love is gone. 

My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourned. 

And now to Helen is it home return’d, 

There to remain. 

1 40 






Helen, it is not so. 

De?n. Disparage not the I'aiih thou dost not know, 

Lest, to thy peril, thou aby it dear. 

Look, where thy love conies; yonder is thy dear. 

Re-enter Her.mi.\. 

Her. Dark night, that from the eye his function takes. 

The ear more quick of apprehension makes; 

herein it doth impair the seeing sense, 

L pays the hearing double recompense. 180 

1 hou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found; 

Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound. 

But why unkindly didst thou leave me so? 

Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go? 
Her. \\ hat love could press Lysander from my side? 

^-ys. Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide. 

Fair Helena, who more engilds the night 
i han all yon fiery oes and eyes of light. 

hy seek’st thou me? could not this make thee know, 

■Ihe hate I bear thee made me leave thee so? 

Her. You speak not as you think: it cannot be. 

Hel. Lo, she is one of this confederacy! 

F*ow I perceive they have conjoin’d all three 
fashion this false sport, in spite of me. 

Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid! 

Have you conspired, have you with these contrived 
. To bait me with this foul derision? 

« all the counsel that we two have shared, 

He sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent, 
l^hen we have chid the hasty-footed time 
For parting us,— O, is all forgot? 

^1 school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence? 

0, Hermia, like two artificia l gods, 
a\e with our needles created both one flower, 
oth on one sampler, sitting on one cushion, 

(SI 236) 






[Act III 

Both warbling of one song, both in one key, 

As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds, 

Had been incorporate. So we grew together, 

Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, 

But yet an union in partition; 

'I'wo lovely berries moulded on one stem; 

So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart; 

'I'wo of the first, like coats in heraldry, 

Due but to one and crowned with one crest. 

And will you rent our ancient love asunder, 

To join with men in scorning your poor friend? 

It is not friendly, ’t is not maidenly; 

Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it, 

'J'hough 1 alone do feel the injury. 

Her. I am amazed at your passionate words. 

1 scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me. 

Hei. Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn, 

To follow me and praise my eyes and face? 

And made your other love, Demetrius, 

Who even but now did spurn me with his foot, 

'I'o call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare, 
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this 
To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander 
Deny your love, so rich within his soul, 

And tender me, forsooth, affection, 

But by your setting on, by your consent? 

What though I be not so in grace as you, 

So hung upon with love, so fortunate, 

But miserable most, to love unloved? 
d'his you should pity rather than despise. 

Her. 1 understand not what you mean by this. 
Ihl. Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks, 
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back; 

Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up: ( 

This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled. 







If you have any pity, grace, or manners, 

You would not make me such an argument. 

But fare ye well: ’t is partly my own fault ; 

Whicli death or absence soon shall remedy. 

L)s. Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse: 

My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena' 

/fi'/. O excellent I 

I/t'r. Sweet, do not scorn her so. 

Def/i. If she cannot entreat, I can compel. 

Lvs. Thou canst compel no more than she entreat: 

Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers. 250 
Helen, 1 love thee; by my life, I do: 

I swear by that which I will lose for thee, 

To prove him false that says I love thee not. 

-Dem. I say I love thee more than he can do. 

^ys. If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too. 

Dem. Quick, come! 

I.ysander, whereto tends all this.' 

Lys. Away, you Ethiopel 

No, no; he’ll — 

Seem to break loose! take on as you would follow, 
But yet come not! you are a tame man, go! 

■Lys. Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose, 260 
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent! 

Her. Why are you grown so rude? what change is this? 
Sweet love, — 

I-ys. Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out! 

Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence! 

Her. Do you not jest? 

Hel. Yes, .sooth; and so do you. 

I^ys. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee. 

H>e}n. I would I had your bond, for I perceive 
A weak bond holds you: I ’ll not trust your word. 

Lys. What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead? 
Although 1 hate her, I’ll not harm her so. 270 


[Act in 


Her. What, can you do me greater harm than hate? 

Hate me! wherefore? O me! wliat news, my love! 

Am not I Hermia? are not you Lysander? 

I am as fair now as I was erewhile. 

Since night you loved me; yet since night you left me: 

Why, then you left me - O, the C*ods forbid! 

In earnest, shall I say? 

!.ys. Ay, ^y my life; 

And never did desire to see thee more. 

'I’lierefore be out of hoi)e, of question, of doubt; 

He certain, nothing truer; ’t is no jest 280 

That I do hate thee and love Helena. 

Her. O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom! 

You thief of love! what, have you come by night 
And stolen my love’s heart from him? 

Hel. 1 ; iixe, i’ faith ! 

Have you no modesty, no maiden shame, 

No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear 
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue? 

Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you! 

Her. Pui>pet? why so? ay, that way goes the game 
Now I perceive that she hath made compare ■ 290 

Between our statures; she hath urged her height; 

And with her personage, her tall personage, . ..rc 

Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail’d with him 
And are you grown so high in his esteem, 

J^ecause I am so dwarfish and so low? 

How low am I. thou painted maypole? speak; 

How low am I? 1 am not yet so low 
Hut that my nails can reach unto thine eyes. 

Hel. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen. 

Let her not hurt me: I was never curst; 3^0 

I have no gift at all in shrewishness; 

I am a right maid for my cowardice; 

Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think, 



Because she is something lower than myself, 

I'hat I can match her. 

Lower! hark, again. 

Hel. Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me. 

I evermore did love you, Hermia, 

Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong’d you: 

Save that, in love unto Demetrius. 

1 told him of your stealth unto this wood 310 

He follow’d you; for love I follow’d him; 

But he hath chid me hence and threaten’d me 
'I'o strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too: 

And now, so you will let me quiet go, 

To Athens will I bear my folly back 
And follow you no further: let me go: 

\ou see how simple and how fond I am. 

Ht'r. Why, get you gone: who is’i that hinders you^ 
hel. A foolish heart, that I leave here behind. 
her. What, with Lysander? 

hel. With Demetrius. 320 

Lys. Be not afraid; she shall not harm thee, Helena. 
Dem. No, sir, she shall not, though you take hei 

hel. O, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd! 

She was a vixen when she went to school; 

And though she be but little, she is fierce. 

her. “ Little” again! nothing but “low” and “little”! 
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus!' 

Let me come to her. 

^ Get you gone, you dwarf; 

^ ou minimus, of hindering knot-grass made; 

^ ou bead, you acorn. 

Dem. You are too officious 33 ° 

On her behalf that scorns your services. 

Let her alone: speak not of Helena; 
lake not her part; for, if thou dost intend 



[Act 111 

Never so little show of love to her, 

Thou shalt aby it. 

j^ys. Now she holds me not; 

Now follow, if thou darest, to try whose right, 

Of thine or mine, is most in Helena. 

Dem. Follow! nay, I 11 go with thee, cheek by jole. ^ . 

\Rxcunt Lysander and Demetrius^ 

Her. You, mistress, all this coil is ’long of you: 

Nay, go not back. 

Hei. I will not trust you, I, 34° 

Nor longer stay in your curst company. 

Your hands than mine are cpiicker for a fray, 

My legs are longer though, to run away. 

Her. I am amazed, and know not what to say. 

Obe. This is thy negligence: still thou mistakest, 

Or else committ’st thy knaveries wilfully. 

Puck, believe me, king of shadows, I mistook. 

Did not you tell me I should know the man 
by the Athenian garments he had on? 

And so far blameless proves my enterprise, 35^ 

That I have ’nointed an Athenian’s eyes; 

And so far am I glad it so did sort 
As this their jangling 1 esteem a sport. . 

Obe. Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight : 

Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night; . 

The starry welkin cover thou anon 

With drooping fog as black as Acheron, »■ * 

And lead these testy rivals so astray 
As one come not within another’s way. 

Dike to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue, 3^° 

Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong; 

And sometime rail thou like Demetrius; 

And from each other look thou lead them thus, 

Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep 
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep: 



Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye; 

Whose liquor hath this virtuous property, 

To take from thence all error with his might. 

And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight. 

U hen they next wake, all this derision 370 

Shall seem a^dream and fruitless vision, 

And bacTTto Athens shall the lovers wend, 

With league whose d^te till death shall never end. 
l\hiles I in this affair do thee employ, 

I '11 to my queen and beg her Indian boy: 

And then I will her charmed eye release 

hrom monster’s view, and all things shall be peace. 

yWl’. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste, 
for night’s swift dragons cut^the clouds full fast, 

And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger; 380 

At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there, 

Iroop home to churchyards: damned spirits all, 

That in crpss>vays and floods have burial. 

Already to their wormy beds are gone; 

for fear lest day should look their shames upon, 

They wilfully themselves exile from light 

And must for aye consort with black-brow’d night. 

Ode. Hut we are spirits of another sort : 

I with the morning’s love have oft made sport, 

And, like a forester, the groves may tread, 39 *^ 

Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red, 

Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams, 
turns into yellow gold his salt green streams. 

Eut, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay: 

We may eftect this business yet ere day. 

Puck. Up and dowm, up and down, 

I will lead them up and down: 

I am fear’d in field and town : 

Goblin, lead them up and down. 

Here comes one. 4^0 

[Act III 



Re-enter Lysander. 

Lys. Where art thou, proud Demetrius? speak thou now. 
Puck. Here, villain; drawn and ready. Where art thou? 
Lys. I will be with thee straight. 

Follow me, then, 

To plainer ground. [Exit Lysander, as follmving the voice. 

Reenter Demetrius. 

Pern. Lysander! speak again; 

'I'hou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled? . 

Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?, 

Puck. Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars, J 

« 1 I i** ^ * 1, 

Telling the bushes that thou look st for wars, 

And wilt not come? Come, recreant; come, thou child 
I ’ll whip thee with a rod; he is dtTiled ,, 4*^ 

That draws a sword on thee. 

Yea, art thou there? 

Puck Follow my voice: we Ml try no manhood here. 


P/.puier T.ysandER. U**' 

Lys. He goes before me and still dares me on; 

When I come \vhere he calls, then he is gone. 

The villain is much lighter-heel’d than L 
I follow’d fast, but faster he did fly; 

That fallen am 1 in dark uneven way, 

And here will rest me. [Lies ifo7vn.] Come, thou 
For if but once thou show me thy grey light, 

I ’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite, [SteeJ>s. 

Re enter Puck and Demetrius. 

Puck. Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why comest thou not? 421 
L>efn. Abide me, if thou darest ; for well I wot 



Thoa runn’st before me, shilling every {)lace, 

And darest not stand, nor look me in the face. 

Where art thou now? 

Puck. Come hither: 1 am here. 

Dem. Nay, then, thou niock'st me. Thou shall buy this 

If ever 1 thy face by daylight sec: 

Now, go thy way. Faintness constraineth me 

I'o measure out my length on this cold bed. 

By day’s approach look to be visited. 43'^ 

\_Lies dotvn and sleeps. 

Re-enter Helena. 

Hei. O weary night, O long and tedious night, 

\ Aba^ e thy hours! Shine comforts from the east, 

That I may back to Athens by daylight, 

From these that my poor company detest: 

And sleep, that sometimes sliuts ui) sorrows eye, 

Steal me awhile from mine own company. 

[Ides doivn and sleeps. 

Puck. Yet but three? Come one more; 

Two of both kinds makes up four. 

Here she comes, curst and sad: 

Cupid is a knavish lad, 44^^ 

Thus to make poor females mad. 

Re-enter Hermia. 

Her. Never so weary, never so in woe. 

Bedabbled with the dew and torn with briers, 

I can no further crawl, no further go: 

^ly let's can k eep no p_ace with my desires. 

Here will I rest me till the break of day. 

Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray ! 

[Pies down and sleeps 



[Act IV 

Puck. On the ground 

Sleep sound; 

I ’ll apply 450 

I'o your eye, 

Gentle lover, remedy. 

\Sgueezing the juice on Lysatider^s eyes- 
When thou wakest, 

Thou takest 
True delight 
In the sight 

0( thy former lady’s eye: . • 

And the country proverb known, 

That every man should take his own, 

In your waking shall be shown: 460 

J^k shall have J^l; (f-. *'^<5 ' 

Nought shall go ill ; 

The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well. 



Scene I. The same. Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, 

ami Mermia iying asleep. 

Enter Titania and Bottom; Peaseblossom, Cobweb, 
Moth, Mustardsekd, and other Fairies attending', 
Oberon behind unseen. 

Tita. Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed, ^ 

While I thy amiable cheeks do cay, i 

And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head, f A 
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy. 

Bot. Where’s Peaseblossom? 



Peas. Ready. 

Bot. Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where s Mounsieur 


Cob. Ready. 9 

Bot. Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your 
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee 
on the top of a thistle; and, good mounsieur, bring me the 
honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, 
mounsieur; and, good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag 
break not; I would be loth to have you overflown with a 
honey-bag, sigiiior. Wdiere's Mounsieur Mustardseed? 

Mus. Ready. » 

Boi. (live me your nea f, Mounsieur Mustardseed. 1 ra) 
you, leave your courtesy, good mounsieur. 

Mus. W'hat 's your will? ^ 

Bot. Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help (^avalery Cob- 
web to scratch. I must to the barber's, mounsieur : for lue- 
thinks I am marvellous hairy about the face; and I am such 
’a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch. 
Tita. Wdiat, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love. 
Bot. I have a reasonable good ear in music. Cet s have 
the tmigs and the bones. 

Tita. Or say, sweet lov’e, what thou desirest to eat. 

Bot. Truly, a peck of provender : I could munch your goo 

dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire’to a bottle of ha> . 

good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow. 

Tita. I hav^e a venturous fairy that shall seek 
The squirrel’s hoard, and fetch thee new nuts. 

Bot. I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas. 
But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me: 1 have an 

e;:q)osition of sleep come upon me. 

Tita. Sleep thou, and I will vvind thee in my arms. 

Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away. [E.xeuat James. 

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle 
Gently entwist; the female ivy so 



\ ■ • 

[Act IV 

[ T/iey sleep. 

♦ • 

Knrings the barky fingers of the elm. 

O, how I love thee! liow 1 dote on thee! 

Enter PuCK. 

Ohe. [Ai/vanelrig\ Welcome, good Robin. See'st thou this 
sweet sight? 

Her dotage now 1 do begin to pity: 

For, meeting her late behind the wood, 

Seeking sweet fa^urs for this hateful fool, 

I did upbraid her and fall out with her; 

I'or she his hairy temples then had rounded 
With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers; 

And that same dew, which sometime on the buds 
Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls, 

Stood now within the pretty flowerets’ eyes 
bike tears that did their own disgrace bewail. 

When I had at my pleasure taunfed her 

5 <^ 

\nd she in mild terms begg’d my 
I then did ask of her her changeling child; 

\Vhich straight she gave me, and her fairy sent 
'I'o bear him to my bower in fairy land. 

And now 1 have the boy, I will undo 
'Phis hateful imperfection of her eyes: 

And, gentle l*uck, take this transformed scalp 
From off the head of this Athenian swain: 

That, he awaking when the other do, 

May all to Athens back again repair 
And think no more of this night’s accidents 
Rut as the fierCQ. a dream. 

Hut first I will release the fairy queen. 

Be as thou wast wont to be; 

See as thou wast wont to see: 

Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower 
Hath such force and bless ed po wer. V 
Now, my Titania ; wake you, my sweet queen. 

4. >> ‘ 



9 ^ 



I'lia. My Oberon! what vi^.ions have I seen! 

Methought I was enamour'd of an ass. 

Obc. rhere lies your love. 

Tita. How came these things to pass? 

O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now ! 

Obe, Silence awhile. Robin, take ofl this head. 

I'itania, music call; and strike mor e dead 
I'han common sleep of all these five the sense. 

Tita. Music, ho! music, such as charmeth sleep! So 

\^Miisii\ still. 

Puck. Now, when thou wakest, with thine own fool s eyes 

Obc. Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands with 

And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be. 

Now thou and I are new in amity 
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly 
Dance in Duke T heseus’ house triumphantly 
And^^s it ^all fair prosperity: 

T here shall the pairs of faithful lovers be 
Wedded, with T’heseus, all in jollity. 

Puck. Fairy king, attend, and mark: 9° 

1 do hear the morning lark. 

Obc. Then, my (lueen, in silence sad, 

T'rii) we after nightes shade: 

We the globe can compass soon, 

Swifter than the wandering moon. 

Tita. Come, my lord, and in our flight 

Tell me how it came this night 
That I sleeping here was found 
With these mortals on the ground. [Exeunt. 

I Borns winded within. 


[Act IV 





^ no 


Enter 'Fheseus, Hippolyta, Egeus, and train. ' 


The. Cio, one of you, find out the fori:^r; 

For now our o^>SiJ 3 'aUon is perlormd; 

And since we have the vaward of the day, ( ■ I * ■■ ■ 
i\Iv love shall hear the mujit. of my hounds. 

Lricoujile in the western valley; let them go: 

D^^atch, 1 say, and find the forester. [.£'.v/V an attendant. 
We will, fair queen, iq) to the mountain’s top, 

And mark the musical confusion ^ ^ 

Of liounds and echo in conjunction, ‘ ^ 

Hip. I was with Hercules and Cadmus once, 

When in a wood of Crete tliey 1)3^^ hear ^ 

With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear 
Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves, 

The skies, the fountains, every region near 
Seem’d all one mutual cry: 1 never heard 
So musjeal a jcJiscord, such sweet thunder. 

The. My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind, ^ 

So flew’d, so sanded, and their heads are hung 
With ears that sweep away the morning dew; 

Crook knee d, and dew-lapp’d like T'hessalian bulls; 

Slow in pursuit, but match’d in mouth like bells, 120 

Each under each. A c7y more tuneable »-! 

W'as never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn, 

In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly: 

Judge when you hear. But, soft! what nyujph^ are 

these? \ ^ 

Ege. My lord, this is my daughter here asleep; 

And this, Lysander; this Demetrius is; 

This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena: 

1 wonder^jf . their being here together. 

'The. No doubt they rose up early to observe 
'The rite of May, and, hearing our intent, 

Came here in grace of our solemnity. 





But speak. Egeus ; is not this the day 

That Hermia should give answer of her vhoice? 

Ege. It is, my lord. 

The. Go, bid the huntsmen wake tliem with their horns. 

\_Horfis and shout within, /.ys., Vein., Met., 
and Her., 7vakc and start up. 

Good morrow, friends. SaitU X’alentine is |)aj5t: 

Begin these wood-birds but to couple now? 

Lys. Pardon, my lord. 

The. I pray you all, stai'id up. 

1 know you tw’O are rival enemies: 

How comes this gentle concord in the world, ^ 

That hatred is so far from jeajousy, - 
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity? 

Lys. My lord, I shall reply ama/.edly, 

Half sleep, half waking: but as yet, I swear, 

I cannot truly say how I came here; 

But, as I think, — for truly would 1 speak. 

And now I do bethink me, so it is, — 

I came with Hermia hither: our intent 
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might 
Without the peril of the Athenian law. ^5° 

Ege. Enough, enough, my lord: you have enough; 

I beg the law, the law, upon his head. 

Ihey would have stolen away; they would, Demetrius, 
Thereby to have defeated you and me, 

Vou of your wife and me of my consent, 

Of my consent that she should be your wife. 

Dcm. My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth, 

Of this their purpose hither to this wood ; 

And I in fury hither follow’d them. 

Fair Helena in fancy following me. 

But, my good lord, I wot not by what power, — 

But by some power it is, — my love to Hermia, 

Melted as the snow, seems to me now 



[Act IV 

As the remembrance of an idle gawd 
Which in my childhood 1 did dote uponj 
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart. 

The object and the pleasure of mine eye, 

Is only Helena. 'I'o her, my lord, 

Was I betroth’d ere I saw Hermia: 

Hut, like a sickness, did I loathe this food; 

But, as in healtli, come to my natural taste, 

Now I do wish it, love it, long for it. 

And will for evermore be true to it. 

The. I-air lovers, you are forturia.tely met: ^ 

Of this di^ourse we more will hear anon. 

I'.geus, I will overbear your will; ^ 

I'or in the tempfe, by and by, with us 
'These couples shall eternally be knit : 

And, for the morning now is something \yorn, 

Our purposed hunting shall be set AS'de. <-w i8o 

Away with us to Athens; three and three. 

We’ll liold a feast in great solemnity. 

Come, Hii^polyta. The.., Hip.^ Ege.^ 

and train. 

Dem. 'These things seem small and undistinguishable, 
Like far-off mountains turned into clouds. 

Her. Methinks I sec these things with parted eye, 

When every thing seems double. 

}lel. So methinks: 

And I have found Demetrius like a jewel. 

Mine own, and not mine own. 

Dem. Are you sure j 

That we are awake? It seems to me 
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think 
'I'he duke was here, and bid us follow him? 

Her. Yea; and my father. 

Jfel. And Hippolyta. 

L^'s. And he did bid us follow’ to the temple. 




Dem. Why, then, we are awake: let's follow him. 

And by the way let us recount our dreams. yhxcunt. 

Bot. When my cue comes, call me, and 1 will 

answer: my next is, “Most fair Pyramus". Heigh-ho! Peter 
Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker! 
Starveling! Qod j)_my life, stolen hence, and lett me aslee|)! 
I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, ]xast 
the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, 
if he go about to expound this dream. Meihought I was 
there is no man can tell what. Methouglu I was. and me- 
thought I had, — l.)ut man is but a pa^hed fool, li he will 
offer to say what inethought I had. 'The eye ot man hath 
not heard, the car of man hath not seen, mans hand is not 
able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, 
what my dream was. I will get Peter (Juince to write a 
ballad of this dream: it shall be called Bottom s Dream, be- 
cause it hath no bottom : and I will sing it in the latter end 
of a play, before the duke: peradventure, to make it ihu 
more gracious, I shall sing it at her death. 213 \_E.\U. 

Scene II. Af/tens. Ql'ince's house. 

Enter Quince, Flute, Snout, aod Siakvelino. 

Quin. Have you sent to Hr)ttom's house? i>i bo come 
home yet? 

Star. He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt he is tians 


Bin. If he come not, then the play is marred: it goes 

forward, doth it? ■ 11 \ 1 ^ s 

Quin. It is not possible: you have not a man in a 
able to discharge Pyramus but he. . r 

E/ie. No, he hath simply the best wit of an> >an 
man in Athens. p 

(M 236 ) 



[Acl IV 

Quin. Yea, and the best person too; and he is a very 
paramour for a sweet voice. 

J’iu. You must say ‘paragon’: a paramour is, God bless 
us, a thing of_naught. 

Enter Snug. 

Snu^. Masters, the duke is coming from the temple, and 
tliere is two or three lords and ladies more married; if our 
sport had gone forward, we had all been m ade m^ n. 

Elu. O sweet bully Bottom! 'Phus hath he lost sixpence a 
day during his life; he could not have ’scaped sixpence a day: 
an the duke had not given him sixpence a day for playing 
Byramus, I’ll be hanged; he would have deserved it: six- 
j)ence a day in Pyramus, or nothing. 22 

Enter Bottom. 


Bot. Where are these lads? where arc these heart s? 

Quin. Bottom! O most rourageous day! O most happy 
hour ! 

Bot. Masters, I am to discourse wonders : but ask me not 
wliat ; for if I tell you, 1 am no true Athenian. I will teli 
you every thing, right as it fell out. 

Quin. Kct us hear, sweet Bottom. 29 

Bot. Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that the 
duke hatli dined. Get your apparel together, good strings to 
your beards, new ribbons to your pumps; meet presently at 
the palace ; every man look o’er his part ; for the short and 
the long is, our play is preferred. In any case, let Thisby 
have clean linen; and let not him that plays the lion pare his 
nails, for they shall hang out for the lion’s claws. And, most 
dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we arc to utter sweet 
breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet 
comedy. No more words: away! go, away! 39 \Exft 4 nt. 

Scene i} A 



Ac r V. 

Scene I. Athens. The palace of 'rni-sEUS. 

Enter, Hifpolvta, Philostrate, Lords, and 


Hip. Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of. 
The. More strange than true: I never believe 
These amii^ue fables, nor tiiese fairy toys. 

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, 

Such shaxdng faiit^ies, that apprehend 
More than cool reason ever comprehends, 
n'he lunatic, the lover and the i)oet 
; Are of imagination all compact: 

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold, 

'That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic, 

Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt; 

The poet’s eye, in a f\ne frenzy rolling, 

Doth glance from heaven to earth, trom earth to heaven; 
And as imagination bodies forth 
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen 
'burns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing 
local habitation and a name. 

Such tricks hath strong imagination. 

That, if it would but apprehend some joy. 

It comprehends some bringer of that joy; 2 

Or in the night, imagining some fear. 

How easy is a bush supposed a bear ! 

Hip. But all the story of the night told over, 

And all their minds transfigured so together, 

More witnesseth than fancy’s images 

And groNvs to something of great constancy; 1 

But, howsoever, strange and ad mira ble. 

The. Here come the lovers, Tull of joy and mirth. 


Enter Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena. 


Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love 
Accompany your hearts! 

More than to us 
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed! 

The. Come now; what mi^pes, what dances shall we 


T o wear away this long age of three hours r».a.r,,rc>^ 

Between our after^upper and bed-time? ^ 

Where is our usual manager of mirth? 

What revels are in hand? Is there no play, ^ 

T o ease the anguish of a torturing hour? , 

Call Philostrate. 

Thi/. Here, mighty Theseus. 

The. Say, what abridgement have you for this evening? 

What masque? what music? How shall we beguile 40 
The lazy time, if not wTth some deliglu?/i . 

Phil. T'liere is a brief how many sports are ripe:' 

Make choice of which your highness will see first. 

\Giving a paper. 

The. [Peads] “The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung 
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp”. 

We’ll none of that: that have I told my love, 

In glory of my kinsman Hercules. 

\^Reads\ “ The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals, 

'rearing the Thracia^Lsinj^er in their rage ^^'^***< 

'I'hat is an old device ; and it was play’d 5 ° 

When I from T'h^es came last a conqueror. 

[Reads^ “The thrice three Muses mourning for the death 
Of Learning, late deceased in beggary ”. 

That is some satire, keen and critical, 

Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony. \ 

[Reads] “ A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus 
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth”. 





Merry and tragical! tedious and brief! 

'That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow. 

How shall we tind the concord of tins discord? 

Phil. A play there is, my lord, some ten words long, 

Which is as brief as I have known a play; 

But by ten words, my lord, it is too long. 

Which makes it tedious; for in all the play 
'I’here is not one word apt, one player ii^d: 

And tragical, my noble lord, it is ; 

For Pyramus therein doth kill himselt. 

Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess, 

Alade mine eyes water ; but more merry tears 
The passion of loud laughter never shed. 

The. What are they that do play it? 

Phil. Hard-handed men that work in Athens here, 

Whi( h never labour'd in their minds till now, 

And now have toil’d their unj^reathed memories 
With this same play, again^ your nuptial. 

The. And we will hear it. 

Phil. No, my noble lord; 

It is not for you: I have heard it over, 

And it is notKing, nothing in the world; 

Unless you can find sport in their intents, 

Extremely stretch'd and comVd with cruel pain, 

'To do you service. 

The. I will hear that play; 

For never anything can be amiss, 

When simpleness and duty tender it. • 

Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies. 

S^Exit Philosirate. 

Plip. I love not to see wretcliedness o’ercharged 

And duty in hls^service perishing. 

The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing. 

Hip. He says they can do nothing in this kind. ^ 

/ The. The kinder we. to give them thanks for nothing. 




[Act V 

Our sport shall be to take what they mistake; 
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect^ 
Takes it in mj^ijt, not merit. 

Where I have come, great cl prks have purposed 
'I'o greet me with premeditated welcomes; 
Where I have seen them sbiyer and look pale, 
Make periods in the midst of sentences, 
I'hrottle their practised accent in their fears, 
And in conclusion dumbly have broke_off, 

Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet, 
Out of this silence yet I pi cked a welcome; 

And in the modesty of fejy(ul duty 
I read as much as from the raUling tongue 
Of saucy and audacious eloquence. 

Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity 
In least speak most, to my capacity. 

9 ® 



Re-aiter Philostrate. 

Phil. So please your grace, the Prologue is ^dress'd. • 
The. Let him approach. \Flourish of trumpets. 

Enter Quince for the Prologue. 

Pro. If we offend, it is with our good wilL 

'Phat you should think, we come not to offend, 

But with good wilL^ To show our simple skill, .' 

That is the true beginning of our end. 

Consider theiLwe com^*but in d'^pite.'^' ’ ^ 

We do not come^as minding to content you, - ^ ^ 

Our true intent is. All for your delight^ 

We are not here. That you should here repent you, • 

The actors are at hand ; and by their show 
You shall know all that you are like to know. 

The. This fellow doth not stand upon. points. 

Zys. He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows 

1 10 



not the stop. A good moral, my lord; it is not enough to 
speak, but to speak true. 

Hip. Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child 
on a recorder; a sound, but not in government. 

77/f.'~His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing im- 
paired, but all disordered. ho is next? 

Enter Pvramus and 'Ehishk, \\ am., Moonshine. 

and l.iON. 

Pro. Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show; 

Hut wonder on. till truth make all things plain. 

'I'his man is Pyramus, if you would know; 

This beauteous lady Thisby is certain. 

'This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present 13 ^ 

Wall, that vUc Wall which did these lovers sunder: 

And through' Wall's chink, i)oor souls, they are content 
I'o whisper. At the which let no man wonder. 

This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn, 

Presenteth Moonshine; for, it you will know, 

By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn 
To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo. 

This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name, 

'I'he trusty Thisby, coming first by night, 

Did scare away, or rather did affright; 

And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall, 

Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain. 

Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall. 

And finds his trusty Thisby 's mantle slain : 

^^Tereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade, 

He bravely broach’d his boiling bloody breast; 

And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade, 

His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest, 

Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain 
At large discourse, while here they do remain. * 5® 

\Exaint Prologue, Pyramus. Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine. 



[Act V 

The. I wonder if the lion be to speak. 

Dem. No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many 

asses do. ^ 

Wall. In this same interlude it doth ^fal^ 

That I, one Snout by name, present a wall; 

And such a wall, as I would have you think, 

That had in it a crannied hole or chink, 

'I'hrough which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby, 

Did whisper often very secretly. 

'I'his loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show 
That I am that same wall; the truth is so: V 

And this the cranny is, right and sinist^er,^ 

Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper. 

7 Vie. Would you desire lime and hair to speak better? 
/>///. It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard dis 

course, my lord. 

/ 160 

Reenter Pvramus. 

The. Pyramus draws near the wall: silence! 

Pyr. O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black ! 

0 night, which ever art when day is not! (-‘i 

O night, O night! alack, alack, alack, 17° 

1 fear my Thisby’s promise is forgot ! 

And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall. 

That stand’s! between her father’s ground and mine! 

Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall, 

Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eynel 

[ Wall holds up his fingers. 

Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this! 

But what see I? No Thisby do I see. 

O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss! 

Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me! 

The. The wall, methinks, being s ensib le, should curse 
again. - 1 81 

Pyr. No, in truth, sir, he should not. “ Deceiving me” is 




Thisby’s cue: she is to enter now, and 1 am to spy her 
through the wall. You shall see, it will lall pat as I told >ou. 

Yonder she comes. 


This, O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans, 

For parting my fair Fyramus and me! 

My ch erry, lips have often kissd thy stones, 

'I'hy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee. 

Pyr. I see a voice: now will 1 to the chink, *9'^ 

I'o spy an I can hear my 1 hisby s face. 

I'hisby ! 

This. My love thou art, my love I think. 

Pyr. Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace; 

And, like Limand er, am I trusty still. 

This. And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill. 

Pyr. Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true. 

This. As Shafalus to 1‘rocrus, 1 to you. 

Pyr. O, kiss me through the hole of this vie wall! 

This. I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all. ^ 

Pyr. Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway. 

This. ’Tide life, ‘tide fea'th, I come without delay. 

\Exeunt Pyrami/s and 1 hisoe. 

Wall. Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so; 

And, being done, thus Wall away doth go. I ' ’ 

The. Now is the imiral down between the two neighbours. 
De 7 n. No remedy, niy lord, when walls are so wi u to 

hear without warning. 

Hip. This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard. 

The. The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst 

are no worse, if imagination amend them. . 

Hip. It must be your imagination then, and not t 
The. If we imagine no worse of them than the> o t eii^ 
selves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come 
noble beasts in, a man and a lion 






[Act V 

Re-entct Lion nnd ^Ioonshine. 

Lion. You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear 
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor, 

May now perchance both quake and tremble here, 

When lion rough in w’ildest rage doth_roar. 

Then know thari, one Snug the joiner, am 
A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam ; 220 

For, if I should as lion come in strife ' 

Into this place, ’t were pity on my life. ^ 

The. A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience. 

Dem. The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw'. 

( Lys. This lion is a very fox for his valour. 

The. True; and a goose for his discretion. 

Dem. Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his 
discretion; and the fox carries the goose. 

The. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his ^alour; 
for the goose carries not the fox. It is well: leave it to his 
discretion, and let us listen to the moon. . 231 

Aloon. This lanthorn doth the horned moon-present; — - 
Dem. He should have worn the horns on his head. 

The. He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within 
the circumference. 

Moon. This lanthorn doth the horned moon present: 
Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be. 

The. This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man 
should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the man i* 
the moon? 240 

Dem. He dares not come there for the candle; for, you 
see, it is already in snuff. k 

Hip. I am aweary of this moon: would he would chjtngel 
The. It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is 
in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay 
the time. 

Lys. Proceed, Moon. 


Moon. All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the 
lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn- 

bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog. -5° 

Dem. Why, all these should be in the lanthorn ; for all 
these are in the moon. Hut, silence ! here comes 1 hisbe. 

Kt'-enfc-r 'Inisin-:. 

This. This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love? 

Lion. [Roaring] Oh \Thisbe runs off. 

Dem. Well roared. Lion. 

The. Well run, Thisbe. 

Hip. Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a 
good grace. [The /Aon siuikes Thisbe' s niant/e, and e.xii. 
The. Well moused, Lion. 

Lys. And so the lion vanished. 

Dem. And then came Pyramus. 

Re-enter Pvk.a.mUS. 

Pyr. Sweet Moon, 1 thank thee for thy sunny beams; 

I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright; 

For, by thy gracious, gt^en, glittering gleams, 

I trust to take of truest 'I'hisby sight. 

Hut stay, O sjiite! 

But mark, poor knight. 

What dreadful dpj^e is here! 

Lyes, do you see? 

How can it be? 

O d^i^duck! O dear! 

Thy mantle good, 

What, stain’d with blood! 

Approach, ye Furies fell 1 
O Fates, come, come. 

Cut thread and tlirum; 

Quail, crush, conclude, and quell! 



[Act V 





The. This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would 
go near to make a man look sad. 

Hip. Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man. 280 

Pyr. O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame? , 

Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear: (V'’ 

Which is — no, no — which was the fairest dame ^ ^' * ’ ** ^ 

That lived, that loved, that liked, that look’d with cheer. 

Come, tears, confound; i 

Out, sword, and wound ^ 

The pap of Pyramus; 

Ay, that left pap, 

Where heart doth hop: 

Thus die 1, thus, thus, thus. 

Now am I dead, 

Now am I fled; 

My soul is in the sky: 

Tongue, lose thy light ; 

Moon, take thy flight: 

Now die, die, die, die, die. 

Pern. No d^e, but an ace, for him; for he is but one. 

Tvs. Less than an ace, man; for he is dead: he is nothing. 
The. With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and 
prove an ass. 300 

Hip. How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes 
back and finds her lover? 

The. She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and 
her passion ends the play. 

[Exit Moonshine, 


Re-enter 'Phishe. 

Hip. Methinks she should not use a long one for such a 
I'yramus: I hope she will be brief. 

Pern. A r note will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which 
Thisbe, is the better; he for a man, God warrant us; she for 
a woman, (iod bless us 



Lys. She has spiud him already with those sweet eyes. 310 
De/n. And thus she means, yidelicet: — 

This. Asleep' my love? 

What, dead, my dove? 

O Pyramus, arise! 

Speak, speak. Quite dumb? 

Dead, dead? A tomb 
Must cover thy sweet eyes. 

These lily lips, 

This cherry nose, 

These yellow cowslip cheeks, 3^° 

Are gone, are gojie: 

Lovers, make moan ; 

His eyes were green as leeks 
O Sisters three, 

Come, come to me, 

With hands as pale as milk ; 

Lay them in gore, 

Since you have shore. 

With shears his thread of silk 
Tongue, not a word: 

Come, trusty sword; 

Come, blade, my breast imbrue: [^Stabs herself. 
And, farewell, friends; 

Thus Thisby ends : 

Adieu, adieu, adieu. \Dies. 

The. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead. 

Dem. Ay, and Wall too. 

^Bot. [Starling nf] No, I assure you; the wall is down 
that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the 
epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our 
company? / ' 34 1 

The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no 
excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead, 
there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had 



[Act V 

played Pyramus and hanged himself in Thisbe*s garter, it 
would have been a fine tragedy; and so it is, truly; and very 
notably discharged. But, come, your Bergomask: let your 
epilogue alone. [-^ dance. 

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve: 

Lovers, to bed; ’t is almost fairy time. 350 

I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn 

As much as we this night have oyerwatch’d. ^ 

This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled 
The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed. 

A fortnight hold we this solemnity, 

In nightly revels and new jollity. \Exeunt. 

Enter PuCK. 

Puck. Now the hungry lion roars. 

And the wolf behowls the moon; 

Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, / , 

All with weary task fordone. 1 360 

Now the wasted brajids do glow, ^ f** 

Wliilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, 

Puts the wretch that lies in woe 
In remembrance of a shroud. 

Now it is the time of night 

That the graves all gaping wide. 

Every one lets forth his sprite. 

In the church-way paths to glide: 

And we fairies, that do run , , ^ 

By the triple H^siate’s team, Z^o 

From the presence of the sun. 

Following darkness like a dream, 

Now are frpUc: not a mouse f -x**v.* ) 

Shall disturb this hallow’d house: 

I am sent with broom before, 

To sweep the dust behind the door. 



Enter Oberon and 'Fitaxia ‘ivith their train. 

Obe. 'Fhrough the house give glininiering light, 

By the dread and drowsy hrc: 

Every elf and fairy sprite 
Hop as light as bird from brier; 

And this ditty, after me, 

Sing, and dance it trippingly. 

Tita. First, rehearse your song b>’ rote, 

'Fo each word a warbling note; 

Hand in hand, with fairy grace. 

Will we sing, and bless this place, (Vid dance. 

Obe. Now, until the break of day, 

Through this house each fairy stra> 

To the best bride-bed will we, 

Which by us shall blessed be; 

And the issue there create 
Ever shall be fortunate. 

So shall all the couples three 
Ever true in loving be. 

And the blots of Nature’s hand 
Shall not in their issue stand : 

Never mole, hare lip, nor scar. 

Nor mark prodigious, such as are 
Despised in nativity. 

Shall upon their children be. 4°'^ 

With this field-dew consecrate,' ' 

Every fairy take his gait; . 

And each several chamber bless, 

Through this palace, with sweet peace; 

And the owner of it blest 
Ever shall in safety rest. 

Trip away; make no stay; 

Meet me all by break of day. 

[Exeunt Oberon^ TitaniOy and train. 






If we shadows have offended, 

'I'hink but this, and all is mended, • ^ t 4 *o 

That you have but slumber'd here 
While these visions did appear. 

^ And this weak and idle theme, 
j No more yieMing_but_a dream, 

' Gentles, do not reprehend: 

If you pardon, we will mend ^ 

And, as I am an honest Ti^k, CV" 

If we have unearned luck ><•*^*' 5 ) 

Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue, ( 1 

We will make amends ere long; 420 

Else the Puck a liar call: 

So, good night unto you all. 

Give me your hands, if we be friends, 

And Robin shall restore amends. \Exit. 



These notes should be used ivith the Glossary, to u'hick the stuaem 
IS referred for all matters of merely verbal intei pretation. 

Reference is made for other plays to the lines oj the ulobe text. 

The symbols Qi Q2 denote the Fisher ijuarto (looo) and the 
Roberts quarto {t6oo) respectively; hi, / T 3 ' 
collected folio editions of 2623, 2^132^ 2O64, 2633. Qq. denotes 
the consent of the two quartos, Fj. that of the folios. 

The sections of Abbott' s Shakespearian Grammar quoted are those 0] 
the 3rd edition. 

DRA.MATIS PFRSON.F. The early editions have no list of 
characters. 'Die first editor to supply one was Rowe. illi reyard 
to the source of the names, Theseus ami Hippolyta Shakespeare 
found in the Life of Theseus in North’s Plutarcli. Egeus also occurs 
there, as the name of I heseus’ father. The same collection contains 
lives of Lysander and of Demetrius. Rigurye and Kmetreus are 
allies respectively of I’alamon and Arciie in the hnii^htes Idle. 
Philostrate is the name assumed bv Arcite in C haucer’s poem. I f ^ 
becomes the Stjuire of Theseus’ Chamber. Bottom is clearly dei ivcd 
from the * bottom ’ or reel of thread that weavers use. h or the origin 
of Oberon, Titania, Puck, Robin-Goodfellow, see Appetulix 
A, §§6. 14-16, 19. In the stage-directions of tlie hi. Piuk 
and Robin-Goodfello^o or Robin are use<l indilferently, both often 
occurring in the same scene. There is no need to assume with Mr. 
Fleay that this points to a revision of the ]ilay. In the same way we 
find in the stage-directions Queen for Titama, Clown for Bottom, 
and Duchess for Theseus and Hippolyta. In the le.xt, Kohin 
is always used except in v. i. 417, 42 1, where he calls himself “</« 
honest Puck”, and the Puck”, and in ii. l. 40, where the fairy 
speaks of “ sweet Puck ” as one of his names. 

time. There is some confusion as to mis. lu i. 1. 
that four days and nights will precede the wedding, d he plot should 
therefore cover live days in all; actually it covers three. 1 he lovers 
(i. I. 164) and the actors (i. 2. 86) both arrange to meet in the 
wood “to-morrow night”. Act ii., therefore, is on the day after 
the opening scene, and the action extends through the night of that 
day until morning breaks in iv. i. 91, and we find (iv. i. 132) mat 
>t is already the wedding-day. This is the third day. Act iv. sc. 2 
is in the same afternoon (iv. 2. 16). and Act v. in the evening after 
supper (V. I. 34). 

(M 236) 97 ^ 



[Act I. 


Another difficulty is presented by the moon. The wedding-day 
is the first of May (iv. r. 130): it is also the day of a new moon 
(i. I. 3, lo). Now, a new moon sets almost with the sun; and yet 
there is moon enough for the rehearsal (i. 2. 103), and it will even 
shine in at the casement of the great chamber window for the per- 
formance (iii. I. 48). 

The play is called a Midsummer Night’s Dream, but the action 
does not take place at midsummer, nor, so far as we can discover, 
was the play produced at midsummer. For tlie significance of the 
title, see Introduction, p. 23. 

There is no division into Acts and Scenes in the Qq. ; F 1 gives 
the Acts^ but not the Scenes. 

Act I. — Scene I. 

The first Act is of the nature of a Prologue. Its function is 
twoTold : (<r) to inform us of the situation of the characters before 
the action begins; and (^) to start the threads of tliat action which 
are to be entangled and unravelled in the working out of the plot. 
Shakespeare is a practical playwright. He knows that we shall not 
be interested in liis st«try until we have discovered what it is all 
about. Therefore he goes lo uork in a business-like way to tell us 
this at once. 

From lines 1-19 of the opening scene we learn that Theseus has 
brought his bride to Athens, ami that they are to be wetlded in four 
days’ time. This Theseus story, though perfectly simple in itself, is 
what has been called the ‘enveloping action’ of the play- All the 
other storie.s depend upon ami are held to'gether by this. It is at 
the wedding that Hermia’s fate must be decided; it is for the 
wedding that Bottom and his fellows are preparing their interlude; 
it is to honour the wedding that Oberon and Tqgnia hpvf-travglled. 
unknown' to each other, from the far East. 

The next part of the scene (lines 20-127) puts before us the story 
of the lovers, llermia loves Lysander, who loves her; but Hermia’s 
father Egeus would wed her to Demetrius, who has already played 
false to her friend, Helena (lines 106-110). 'I'heseus warns Hermia 
that she must make up her mind to obey her father, an<l must give 
her answer on the day of his nuptials. 

Finally, in lines 128-251, the real action of this story begins with 
the bold determination of the lovers to fly from Athens, and the re- 
solve of Helena to win Demetrius to follow them.v 

1-19. Note that, although the turbulence of Theseus’ youth is now 
over, the central idea of llie play, the lawlessness of love, has had 
its illustration in his life also. He has woo’d TdippCt^ with his 
sword, and won her love, iloing her injuries. Now his period of 
Sturm und draug is past, and he has come out of it, the serene and 
strong king. 

Scene i.] 



2. four happy days bring in Another moon. Cf. the note on 
the 7 /w^ofihe Plav. 

4. wanes. So Q2 Ff.; Q i has 7 v< 7 u^s, the common printer’s 
error of « for 

lingers, in the causative sense of ‘makes to linger’, ‘ cliecks’. 
Cf. A'lf/ujn/ //., ii. 2. 70-72 — 

“A parasite, a keeper back of death, 

Wlio gently would dissolve the bands of life, 

Which false hope lingers in extremity '. 

Abbott, § 291, gives a list of several verbs thus used by Shakespeare 
in a rarer traiibitive as well as a commoner intransitive sense. 

5. Theseus, waiting for his promised briile, feels like a young man 
held back trom the full enjoyment of his revenue by the necessity of 
paying part of it to his father’s widow until her death. See Glossary, 
s.v. l)ou\ii;er. Malone quotes Horace, Epist. i. i. 20-22 — 

“ ut piger annus 

Pupillis, quos dura premit custorba matrum, 

Sic mill! tarda fluunt ingrataque tempora”; 

thus translated by Drant (1567) — 

" Slow seems the year unto the ward. 

Which holden down must be, 

In custody of stepdame strait, — 

Slow slides the time to me”. 

Cf. also Merry IVives, i. 1. 284, “I keep but tliree men and a boy 
yet. till my mother be dead 

6. revenue. Here accented ‘revenue'; in line 158, ‘revenue’. 
See Essay on Metre, § to (i). 

8. Four nights. So Q i Ff. ; Q 2 Four daies. 

10. New-bent. 'I his is Rowe’s very tempting emendation for 
the PJoxv hent of the Qq. Ff. 

15. companion, a word often used by Shakespeare in a depre- 
ciatory sense. 

16. I woo’d thee with my sword. Cf Chaucer, A'uig/ites 
Tale, 1-12— 

“ Whylom, as olde stories tellen us, 

Ther was a duk that highte Theseus; 

Of Atlienes he was lord and governour, 

And in his tyme swich a conquerour. 

That gretter was ther noon under the sonne. 

Fill many a riche contree hadde he wonne; 

What with his wisdom and his chivalrye 
He conquered al the regne of Femenye. 



(Act I. 

That whylom was y-clepetl Scithia; 

And weddede the quene Ipolita, 

And broghte hir hoom with him in his contree. 

With muchel glorie and greet solempnitee 

There are, perhaps, further echoes of this passage in the ‘solemnities* 
of line II and the ‘duke’ Theseus of line 20. 

20-127. This part of the scene closely resembles in structure the 
opening of ’I'he Comedy of Errors^ where ALgeon is brought before 
the Duke, and is respited until the end of the play. The Comedy of 
Errors is slightly earlier in date than A Midsummer Nighf s Dream. 
On the scansion of Theseus, Egeus, Demetrius, llermia, see Essay on 
Metre, § 9. 

20. The conception of Theseus as a ‘duke’ is a characteristic 
anachronism. Shakespeare, as we have just seen, found it in 

24, 26. Starrd forth, Demetrius ... Stand forth, Lysander. 
Printed as stage-directions in all the Qq. Ff. ; but the scansion shows 
that they are really part of the text. 

27. F 2 tried to mend the metre by reading This hath bewitched, 
and TheobaUl by 'J'his man hath ivitched. It is better, however, to 
keep the text and to treat man hath as metrically equivalent to a 
single syllable, thus — 

“ Tltis man ’th | bewitched | the bos | om of | my child”. 

Such auxiliary forms as hath, have, has, hast are frequently merged 
in this way witli a preceding pronoun. Cf. Cymbeline, iv. 2. 47 — 

“This youth, | howe'er | distress’d, | appears | he hath had 
Good ancestors ”. 

See Konig, p. 56, and Essay on Metre, § 8 (v). 

31. feigning ..feigning. This is Rowe’s spelling, but the Qq. 
Ff. have faining. .faining, which Furness wouhl retain in the sense 
of ‘ yearning*. But I think feigning better suits the stolen, cunning, 
and filched, which follow in Egeus’ indictment. The antithesis is 
characteristic of Shakespeare’s early style. Cf. Introduction, p. il. 
For the idea, cf. Two Gentlemen of Terona, Act iv. sc. 2 , where 
Thurio and Proteus serenade Silvia at her chamber-window. 

32. ‘ Imprinted thyself by stealth upon her fancy.* Fantasy often 
has the special sense of ‘ love-fancy ’. See Glossary. 

39. Be 't so, a conditional clause = ‘ if it be so*. Cf. Abbott, 

§ * 33 - 

45. Immediately, expressly, precisely: see Glossary. 

54. in this kind, i.e. not as a man, but as a husband. 

Scene i 



69, Scan — 

■ Whether, if [ you yield | not to \ your fa ther’s choice’. 

Whither is metrically equivalent to a single syllable. See Konig, 
p. 3^, and Essay on Metre, § S (ix) b. 

70 the livery of a nun. A min in the Athens of Theseus is 
Si'inething of an anachronism. Ihit classical antiquity hail its women 
vowed to a single life in tlie service of some goihiess. At Koine 
there were the N’estal Virgins; at ,\then5 Hermia is to protest on 
Diana’s altar (line S9), Diana, or Artemis, being the godiless of 
chaste maidenhooil. Cf. also North\ Plutarch, Life of Theseus, 
“ hgeus tlc>iiing (as they say) to know liow he might have children, 
went into the city of Delphcs, to the Oracle of Apollo: where, by a 
nunne of the temple, this notalile prophecie was given him for an 
answer”. It is w<jrth remark, that although 'I'aania is identified 
with Diana {cf. Appendix A, § 15), she sjieaUs of ‘a votaress of her 
order ’ as having a son (ii. i. 1231. Diana, in one of her aspects, was 
the moon-goddess, which explains the ‘cold fruitless moon ’ of line 73. 

76. earthlier happy, happier on earth. The phrase is really the 
comparative of the com()ouiKl adjective ‘earthly-happy’. 

Tlie idea that the rose which is distilled into scent is more 
fortunate tlian that which ilies upon the tree may be variously illus- 
trated. 'Ihus, from the Collo<]uiiiin Proet et Puellac of Erasmus: 
“Ego ro>am existimo feliciorem, (juae marcescit m hominis manu, 
delectans interim et oculos et nares, quam quae senescit in frutice ”. 
And from Eyiy, Mideis, .\ct ii. sc. i : “ You bee all young, and faire, 
endevour all to bee wise and vertuous; that when, like roses, you 
shall fall from tlie stalke, you may begathercil, and put to the still ”. 
And from Shakespeare’s own Sonnet 54, of canker-blooms, which 

“ Die to themselves; sweet roses do not so ; 

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made”. 

Cf. also Sonnet 5. The comparison of Heauty to a rose, which 
should be plucked before it fades, has of course been a commonplace 
of the poets, from Ausonius to Herrick. 

80. virgin patent, ‘ patent, or privilege, of virginity ’. A /■atent 
is a letter under the royal seal, conferring a certain privilege up<m the 
holder: see Glossary. Almost any relation between two substantive- 
ideas can he expressed in Elizabethan English by making one of 
them an adjective of the other. 

83. the next new moon. Cf. the note t>n the 7 'hue of the Tlay. 

88. as he would. He is Egeus, rather than Demetrius. 

92. Another characteristically antithetic line, with the antithesis 
emphasized by the aid both of alliteration and stress; tlius — 

“Thy crazed title to my cedtain right”. 

By crazed should be understood as not ‘mad’, but ‘cracked’, 
‘flawed : cf. Glossary. 



[Act I. 

98. estate, a verb =' bestow It occurs again in Tempest, iv. 1. 
85; As You Like /(, V. 2. i Elizabethan English allows consider- 
able freedom in the formation of verbs out of substantives. Cf. 
‘versing’ (ii. I. 67), ‘childing’ (ii. I. 112), and see Abbott, § 290. 

99. as well derived, derived of as good ancestors. 

1 13. self-affairs, my own affairs. Cf. Glossary, s. v. Self. 

122. Theseus has been obliged to turn for a moment from his 
‘ self-afTairs’ to the affairs of state. 1 lippolyta has stood by, waiting 
until her lover shall he again free to give her his attention. Theseus 
would not have her think herself neglected. So he whispers a tender 
word as he leads her from the presence-chamber. 

128-251. Mr. Fleay suggests that these lines ought to form a sepa- 
rate scene; the interview between the lovers could hardly take place 
in the palace. Hvit it is carefully led up to in what precedes. 
Theseus’ commands to Egeus and Demetrius to accompany him have 
no significance in the story : they are only the playwright’s rather 
crude device to clear the stage for Lysander and liermia. More- 
over the Manet Lysander and Henma of the F l stage-direction 
disposes of Fleay’s view. 

This is one of the characteristically lyrical passages of the play. 
Shakespeare makes no attempt at subtle characterization amongst 
the lovers. They chant the eternal commonplaces of passion; not 
inappropriate to their situation, because it is just in such moments of 
personal emotion that what was known as truism becomes recognized 
h)r truth ; but not particularly dramatic, because they delay rather 
than help tlie action. This ctTect is to some extent balance<l by the 
sudden resolve to cpiit Athens, which is dramatic enough, and an 
important point in the plot. 

'I'he lyrical nature of the dialogue, voice answering voice in a kind 
of antiplion, is noticeable. In lines I35-I40and lines 194-201 this 
takes the extreme form of stichomuthia or alternating lines. See 
Essay on Metre, § 16. 

132-X49. Compare with I.ysander’s complaint that of Adam in 
Milton’s Paradise Lost, x. 898-906 — 

“ For either 

He never shall find out fit mate, but such 
As some nusfortune brings him, or mistake; 

Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain 
'I'hrough her perverseness, but shall see her gained 
By a far worse; or, if she love, withheld 
By parents; or his happiest choice too late 
Shall meet, alreatly link’d and wedlock-bound 
To a fell adversary, his hate or shame”. 

133. tale or history. Probably Shakespeare has in his mind 
such famous collections of stories of women as Ovid’s HeroideSt 
Boccaccio’s De Claris Mulieribus^ Chaucer’s Legend 0/ Good fVomertt 

Scene i.j 



and Gower’s Coufesno Antantis. In Chaucer’s poem occurs, amongst 
other legends, that of Thisbe of Babylon. See Introduction, p. 17, 
and Appendix E. 

135 - The grammatical construction is rather vague. ‘ It’ appears 
to refer somewhat generally to the whole imagineil situation. 

136. low is Theobald’s emendation for the love the Qq. Kf. 
The change makes Mermia’s echo of Lysander’s comjdaint much 
more pointed and direct, and Malone supports it l)y quoting Venus 
and Adorns, line-» 1136-40 — 

“Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend: 

It shall be waited on with jealousy, 

Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end, 

Ne’er settled equally, but high or low. 

That all love’s pleasure '•hall not match his woe”. 

139. friends. So Qq. : Ff. have 

143. momentany. So Qq.: Ff. have the more usual form mo- 
menfarie. See Glossary. 

144. Swift as a shadow, that is, the sliadow of a cloud passing 
over the fields. 

145-149. This splendid metaphor illustrates not only the brief 
span of love, but also its power to enlarge and purify the vision* 
Even as the lightning, it “unfolds both heaven and earth”, presents 
both the spiritual and the material world under new aspects to the 

147. Cf. Romeo and Juliet, ii. 2. 117 — 

“ I have no joy of this contract to-night ; 

It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden ; 

Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be 
Ere one can say ‘ It lightens’ ”. 

149. Note the pathos of the final line, moving slowly and dying 
away without a stress — 

“ So' qu'ick bri'ght things co'me to confu'sion”. 

150. ever, always, constantly. 

151. Note the accent, ‘edi'ct’, and see Essay on Metre, § 10 (i)* 

152. teach our trial patience. One of the compressed phrases, 
which became more and more characteri.stic of Shakespeare. The 
full sense is ‘teach ourselves patience to endure our trial’. 

158. revenue. See note on line 6. 

159. remote. SoQq.r Ff. hawe remou'd. 

160. respects, looks upon. See Glossary. 

164. forth thy father’s house. Shakespeare often omits the 
preposition ‘ from’ after verbs of motion. Cf. Abbott, § rqS. It is 



[Act 1 . 

suggested, however, in Abbott § I 5 ^» that from being con* 

stantly used in such phrases as Jorth fronty forth ofy came in lime to 
have a prepositional sense itself. 

164. to-morrow night. See note on the Ttfne of the Play. 

167. The morning following the ‘morrow’ was to be once more 
the first of May, and therefore 1 lermia’s early departure would not 
cause suspicion. Cf. iv. I. 129, where Iheseussays — 

“ No doubt they rose up early to observe 
The rite of May 

Shakespeare has in his nund Chaucer’s Knightcs Itile, 642, And, 
for to doon his observaunce to May”, which is also followed in 7 %vo 
Noble Kiusmetty ii. 4. 49-5* — 

“Vow must be rca<ly, 
l o-morrow by the sun, to do observance 
'I'o flow’ry May, in Dian’s wood”. 

The phrase recurs in Chaucer’s 7 't'oiltts and Creseidey ii. 112, .\nd 
lat us don to May som observaunce”. The superstitions connected 
with May-day are perhaps the most living part of English folk-lore. 
A full accotint of them is given in Brand, Popular Anti<]uitjeXy\o\. i., 
pp, 212-234; and their primitive significance is discussed in Frazer^s 
Golden Bough, i. 72-86. See also Herrick’s charming noem, Corinna s 
Going a Inlaying. 

165. the wood, a league without the town. Cf. i. 2. 86, 87, 
“the palace wood, a mile without the town”. Halliwell n(>tes that 
the length of the league was variously estimated. In Holland’s trans- 
lation of Ammianus Marcellinus it is reckoned as a mile and a half. 

170. the golden head. According to the cla.ssical legend, Cupid 
had sharp golden arrows to inspire happy loves, blunt leaden arrows 
for the hapless ones. Shakespeare may have got the notion from 
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, i. 467-471 — 

“ Eqne sagittifera promsil duo tela pharetra 

Diversorum operum : fugat hoc facit illud amorem, 

Quod facit, auratum est et cuspide fidget acuta; 

Quod fugat, obtnsum est et habet sub arundinc plumbum”. 

Thus Englished by Arthur Golding (ed. 1587) — 

“ There from his quiver full of shafts two arrows he did take 
Of sundry powers ; I’one causeth love, the t’other doth it slake. 
That causeth love is all of gold, with point full sharn and bright, 
I'hal chaseth love is blunt, whose steel with leaden head is dight . 

Cf. Twelfth Night, i. i. 35— 

“ How will she love, when the rich golden shaft 
Hath kill’d the flock of all affections else 
That live in her”. 

Scene i.] NOTES *05 

Also James The King's Quair — 

“ And witli ilie firsi that headed is of gold, 
lie smites soft and lliat has easy cuic ". 

And Sidney, Areadui^ Bk. ii. — 

‘‘ Bill arrowes two, and lipt with gold or lead”. 

171. From tliis point the lyiicisin of the scene is enhanced by the 
use of rhyme. See Essay on Metre, § 17 (i) b. 

171. the simplicity of Venus' doves. The doves of \'enus 
are familiar to classical mythology, but Shakespeare, like a true 
child of the Renaissance, has given them a meaning taken from quite 
another source; “ Be ye wise as seiqients, and harmless as doves 

172. I he allusion in this line is probably to the cestus or girdle 
of \'emi5. 

173. ’Die story of .Eneas and Dido seems to have impressed 
Shakespeare’s imagination more than any otliei classical legeud, 
judging by the frequency of his allusions to it. 

180, 'I'he introduction of Helena does not alter the tune of the 
scene. She takes her share in the utterance of lyrical love-senti- 
ments; but her resolve to follow the lovers, with Demetrius, serves 
as a second step in tlie thickening of the |>lot. 

182. your fair. So Q<p : the Ff. have you fair. For ‘fair’ as 
a substantive, see Glossar>. 

187. Yours would I catch. This is Hanmer's probable emen- 
dation for the your loords 1 tatch of the Qq. : your words Ide catch 
of the Ff. 

191, 192. ‘ If I had all the world, but had not Demetrius, I would 
give all the world, to have your favour, and so win him.’ 

194-201. Ihe antithetical structure should be observed, not only 
in the stichomulhia or lialancc of line against line, but also within the 
lines themselves. 

200. So Q I : Q 2 FT have His folly, H.lcna, is none oj mine, 
thus slightly weakening the antitliesis. 

207. Cf. ii. I. 243, and Milton, Paradise Lost, i. 254 — 

“The mind is its own place, and in itself 

Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”. 

211. Cf. ii. I. 14, 15 — 

“ I must go seek some dewdrops here. 

And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear”. 

215. faint. Is this an epithet of smell or of colour? In If'inier's 
Tale, iv. 4, 122, it is certainly the colour that Shakespeare notes, 
of the 

“ pale primroses, 

That die unmarried, ere they can behold 
Bright Phtebus in his strength”. 



[Act I. 

And so, too, in Cytnbeline^ iv. 2. 220 — 

“ thou shall not lack 

The flower that’s like thy face, pale primrose”. 

216-219. sweet.. .stranger companies. So Iheobald for the 
stueld .. strange companions of the Qc|. Ff. ; rightly, I think, on 
account of the rhyme. He adds, “Our author very often uses the 
substantive ‘stranger’ acljectively, and companies to signify ‘com- 
panions’”; as in Richard IP., i. 3. 143. “the stranger paths of 
banishment”, and in Henry K, i. 1. 55. “ His companies uiiletter d, 
rude and shallow”. Heath supports counsel S7veet by Psalm Iv. 15, 

“ We took sweet counsel together, and walked in the house of God 
as friends”. I quote these arguments because a departure from the 
Qq. Ff in a play where the text is generally as correct in these 
editions as it is in a A/idsiitnmer Night's l^reatn requires some 

226. other some. Some has the force of a substantive, ‘men’, 
‘pers<jns’. Cf. Abbott, § 21 and p. 6, where he quotes from 
Iley wood — 

“Some with small fare they be not pleased, 

Some with much fare they be diseased. 

Some with mean fare be scant appeased, 

But of all somes none is displeased 
To be welcome ”. 

231. admiring of. The 0 / explained by the fact that admiring 
is here a verbal noun, before which a preposition, such as ‘in , has 
dropped out. Cf. Abbott, § 178. Sometimes the 

retained in the abbreviate<l form *a-’, as in Olhello, \y. i. 188, “I 
would have him nine years a-killing”. Cf. Abbott, g 24. 

232. quantity. Here used, I think, in the sense of ‘large 
quantity’, just as it has the exactly opposite sense in ’ 2 'aming of the 
Shreiv, iv. 3. 112, “Thou rag, thou quantity, thou remnant”, y^ere 
seems no point in explaining it by ‘proportion’ as in J/amlet, iii. 2. 
177, “ For women’s love and fear holds quantity ”. 

235. wing’d Cupid painted blind. Rolfe says “This is a 
modern idea, no trace of it being found in the old Greek or Latin 
poets”. Douce says that the earliest English writer who gives it 
is Chaucer, in his translation of the Roman de la Rost'. “The god 
of love, blind as a stone”, and that the line is not in the Frctich 
original. Prof. Manby kindly refers me to The House of FanUt 

i. 137 — 

“Her dowves, and daun Cupido, 

Hir blinde son”. 

249. a dear expense, ‘an expense I would gladly incur*. 

Scene 2 .] 



Scene 2. 

The first scene siarted tlie story of the lovers, and showed that 
it was connecteil with the we<.lJin^-<.lay ot 1 liescus. The second 
scene starts the story of the rustics. This also is connected with 
the wedding-day, for it is on that occasion that the interlude is to be 
acted. And we learn at the einl that the rustics, like the lovers, 
will be in the wootl on the morrow niglit. 

A fondness for the drama appears to have been wi<iely spread 
over the I-.ngland of Elizabeth, and probably Sliakespeare liad been 
present at lust sucli scenes, as he here describes, in tbe villages ol 
Warwickslnre. Similar episodes may be found m Lite's Labour j 
Lout, m I'he 'J\oo Noble A'msmen, and in the Oxford play of Ntiretssns 
(see Ap[)endix F). Hut, though we may not hohl with Mr. t leay 
that Shakespeare is making a direct hit at Lord Sussex’s Players 
(see Introduction, p. 9), he probably doe> intend a delicate satire upon 
some of the foibles of actors generally. Such a performer as Bottom, 
supremely councious of liis own importance, anxious to play all the 
‘fat’ parts himself, and especially the noisiest pait, ordering all his 
fellows and even the stage-manager about the place, is to be found 
in nearly every company, amateur or professional. It is a lifelike 
bit of fooling. 

Prose is used for the speech of the rustics throughout. Shake- 
speare always reganls it as appropriate to comic scenes, and vulgar 
personages; ami m this play it serves (<i) to distinguish the talk of 
the rustics off the stage from the lines of their interlude, and (^) to 
emphasize the contrast in .-Vet iii. sc. i. and Act iv. sc. I., between 
Bottom ami the fairies. See Essay on Metre, § l<). 

2. You were best. In Middle English, preference is regularly 
expressed by an impersonal construction with a dative. Thus 
were best is really = (To) you (it) were best. Shakespeare keeps tlie 
idiom, but is probably not conscious that ‘ you’ is a dative, for he 
has, e.^. “I were belter” //er/rj 11 '., \ ' 2. 1.15), and not ‘Me 
were better’. Sec .\bbott, § 230. 

generally. Bottom means ‘individually’. The particular 
form of humour, which consists of either (I) using woids which 
bear an exactly opposite sense to that which is intended, as here, or 
(2) using words which have a different sense, but a similar sound to 
that which is intended, as in ‘obscenely’ (lines 92, 93), is common to 
the illiterate clowns of Shakespeare’s earlier plays, from the Costard 
of Love's Labour's Lost to the Dogberry of A'io about Xolhtu^. 

^ ery likely it was part of the dramatic method of Will Kempe, who 
was the chief comic actor of the Lord Chamberlain’s company up 
to 1599. We now call this kind of mistake a ‘ Malapropism ’, from 
its use by Sheridan in the character of Mrs. Malaprop in the Rivals. 
I he name is of course derived from the French nial a propos, ‘out of 
place’, ' irrelevant 


5. interlude. Here used in its original sense of a play in 

between {intfr) the courses of a banquet or the diversions of a revel. 
Theseus speaks of the performance in v. I. 33i 34 something 

“ To wear away this long age of three hours 
Between our after-supper and bed-time”. 

The word came to be used for a ‘ play ’ in a more general sense. 

8. grow to a point. So the Qq.: El h?LS ott to a point. I 

should explain the phrase as meaning ‘do the thing thoroughly, 
completely’: see Glossary, s.v. Point. Ihit it is generally taken as 
ecjuivalent to ‘ come to the point’. 

9-11. The most lamentable comedy.. .and a merry. Cf. 

V. I. 56-60— 

“ A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus 
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth. 

Merry and tragical! tedious and briefl 
I hat is, hot ice ami wondrous strange snow. 

How shall we find the concord of this discord ?” 

Shakespeare is burlesquing the title-pages of the plays published in 
his time, of which an example may be fovmd in Thomas Prestons A 
lamentable "l'roged}\ mixed full of pleasant A/irth, containing 'J he 
Li/e of Cnmbises, King of Persia (1570?)- Cf. iv. 2. 18, note. 

Grammarians call this ‘contrast by juxtaposition of opposite con- 
ceptions’ an Oxymoron. Shakespeare uses the device somewhat 
more seriously in Romeo and ynliet, i. I. 182 — 

“ M'hy, then, O brawling love! O loving hale ! 

O any thing, of nothing first create! 

O heavy lightness! serious vanity! 

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! 

Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health I 

Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!” 

18, gallant. So Qq.: the Ff. h:i\'e gallantly. Shakespeare uses 
adjectives as adverbs freely. Cf. Abbott, § 1. 

21. condole. Bottom uses the word in its ordinary Shakespearian 
sense: see Glossary. 

22. humour, ‘temperament*, ‘disposition’: see Glossary. 

a tyrant. Bottom’s dramatic ideal is formeil upon the rant- 
ing blood-and-thunder melodramatic style of tragedy, which was so 
popular when Shakespeare began to write, and which finds an 
artistic expression in the work of Marlowe. Shakespeare has his 
serious criticism of a similar manner amongst actors in Hamlet^ 
iii. 2. 9 — 

“ O, it offends me to the soul to hear a nibustious periwig-pated 
fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the 
groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inex- 
plicable dumb-shows and noise: 1 would have such a fellow whipped 
for o’erdoing Termagant; it out-Herods Herod: pray you, avoid it . 

Scene 2. j 



Besides the natural liking of the groundlings for noise, two literary 
influences helped to form the type of <lrania in question. One was 
tlie popularity of Seneca’s sensational tragedies, on which see K. 
Fischer, Zur Kunsteiitwiikluui^ dcr en;^lis:hen 7 'nr^othf, and 
CunlitTe, The Influence of Seneca on IJizabethan '] ra^edy. 1 he 
other was the tradition of the Miracle-plays, in which certain 
personages, such as Herod, the ‘tyrant’, were always treated in a 
blustering vein. 

22. play Ercles. Hercules, like Herod, was no doubt a typical 

stage tyrant. The Cl. I’r. ed. quotes Sidney, Arcadia ( l 598 ed. ), Bk. 
i. p. 50, “ With tlie voyce of one that playeth Hercules in a play”. 
The first mention of Hercules in English drama is in a list of pro- 
perties for a ‘ma^k of Greek worthies’, temp. Edward NT., winch 
includes ‘a great clobb for one of them representing Hercules’. 
Seneca’s Hercules was translated by Jasper Hcywooii in I5bl. 

The old actor in Greene’s Groatsworth of li'ti (1592) says, “ I he 
twelve labors of Hercules have I terribly thundered on the stage ’. 
Hercules occurs as a Worthy in Lords Lahour^s Lost (15S9?). It 
ajrpears from Ilenslowe’s Diary ‘the first part of Herculous’ was 
played by the .Admiral’s men at the Rose as a newenterludc on 7th 
May, *595, and ‘the second part of Hercrilas’ on 23rd May, 1595 - 
These plays are identified by Mr. Eleay with Heywood’s Silrer Age 
and Brazen Ai;e. On l6th May, 159S, Hcnslowe lioughl from 
Martin Slaughter the books of ‘two parts of Hercolus’, and on i6th 
July, I59S. lie- lent 'I'homas Dowton 40 shillings “for to bye a Kobe 
to play Herctjlas in ”. 

23. tear a cat, apparently a proverbial phrase for violent action 
on the stage. Cf. Day, 'The Isle 0/ Guls (1606), “a whole play of 
such tear-cat thunderclaps”; and Htstnomasttx (1610) — 

“ .Sir, is this you w’ould rend and tear the cat 
Upon a stage, and now march like a drown’d rat?” ; 

and 'The Roaring Girl (1611), where is a character 1 ear-cat, who 
says, “ I am called by those who have seen my valour, 1 ear-cat ’. 

make all split. Probably a nautical metaphor from the 
splitting of ma>ts in a hurricane. Cf. Tempest, i. I. 65, “ AN e split, 
we split”. The phrase recurs in Beaumont and Fletcher, Scornfid 
Lady, ii. 3, “ T\vo roaring boys of Rome, that made all split ”. Cf. 
also the phrase, “split the ears of the groundlings” in the passage 
quoted from Hamlet above. 

24 -' 3 t. Printed as prose in the (^q. Ff. Rolfe suggests that 
these lines may be a burlesque of a translation of Seneca’s Hercules 
Furens publishc<l in 1581. He quotes : 

“ O Lord of ghosts ! whose fiery flash 
That forth thy hand doth shake, 

Doth cause the trembling lodges twain 
Of Phoebus’ car to shake”. 



And again, 

“ The roaring rocks have quaking stiir'd, 

And none thereat hath push < 1 ; 

Hell gloomy gates I have brasi ope 
Where grisly ghosts all hush’d 
Have stood 

But of course the passage may be a quotation from some actual play. 

a2 Bottom’s self-importance, and the way in which he divides 
the company into (i) Himself, (2) The rest of the players, are 


37. a wandering knight, a knight-errant. 

^0 40 a beard coming. In Elizabethan companies the women’s 

parts were regularly played by boys. Hamlet says to the player in 
Hamlet, ii. 2. 442, “ O. my old friend, thy face is valanced since I 
saw thee last : comest thou to beard me in Dentnarki' 

44. monstrous little, another comic Oxymoron. 

Thisne, Thisne. The Cambridge editors say “ It naay be 
questioned whether the true reading is not thisne, thtsne\ that is, 
•in this manner’, a meaning which * thissen has in several dialects. 
See 1 lalliwell’s Archaic Diet. ‘ So-ne ’ is used in the same way in 
Suffolk.’^ But the Qu. V(. print the words in italics, as if they were 
proper names. I’erhaps they rev>resent Bottom’s first attempt to 
pronounce ‘Thisbe’ in ‘a monstrous little voice . 

51, 54. Thisby’s mother ... Pyramus’ father . . . Thisby’s 
father It is to be noted that these personages do not appear 
either in the rehearsal, or in the final pertormance. See note to in. 

1. 67-94. 

64, 65. fright the duchess and the ladies. Cf. iii. i. 28, note. 

69. 70. have no more discretion but to hang us. I here is 
something of a play upon words here, as discretion may mean either 

‘ choice ’ or ‘ wits’. ^ 

70. aggravate. The usual Elizabethan sense is ‘ exaggerate , 
‘make large’. See tilossary. Bottom, of course, means just the 

71. roar you. You is the old ‘ ethic* dative, in the sense of ‘ for 
your pleasure’, ‘for your advantage’. See Abbott, § 220. 

sucking dove. On April Fool’s Day, one sends children to 
look for ‘ pigeon’s milk 

77. Bottom is fond of managing others, but he does not always 
sec when he is being managed himself. 

80. your, a colloquial use, like that of the I-atin iste, equivalent 
to ‘that you wot of’. Cf. Abbott, § 221. 

83. French crowns, a pun. A ‘ French crown* was (a) a coin, 
of pale gold ; a bald head. 

Act 11. Scene i.] 



86. to-morrow night, See note on the Tune of the Play. 

92, 93. obscenely. It is generally said that liottoin means ‘ob- 
scurely’. I incline to think he really means ‘unseen’, which gives a 
much nearer soniul. In Lazes Labour's LosL iv. i. 145, Costard 
uses ‘obscenely’ for ‘seemly’ — 

“ When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenely, as it were, so fit . 

95. hold or cut bow-strings. This is clearly a metaphor 
from archery, though it is diversely explained. I think it means 
‘ Hold {i.e. keep your promises) or give up the play ’. To cut bow- 
strings for archers wouhl be much the same as burning tlieir sliips 
for seamen. Capell, however, says: “ \\ hen a party was made at 
butts, assurance of meeting was given in the words of that jihrase, 
the sense of the person using them being that he would ‘hohi or 
keep promise, or they might ‘euf his bozvsl* iii:^s', demolish him for an 
archer ”. The only near jiarallel is in Chapman and Shirleys The 
Ball ( 1639) — 

" Scutilla. .. have you devices 
To jeer the rest ? 

Lucia. All the regiment on ’em, or I’ll break my bowstrings”. 

Act II.— Scene I. 

So far both the main stories of the plot liave gone on straight- 
forwardly. 'Fhe ‘‘ morrow night ’, the night of the second day, has 
come, and botli the lovers and the rustics reach the wood as they 
had purposed. With the second Act complications begin. And 
the motive force in the complication of both stories comes from the 
persunages of yet another story, that of tlie fairies. 

In lire present scene, lines 1-187 introduce the fairy story, and 
put us in possession of its opening situation; lines 188-246 connect 
it witlr the story of the lovers. Oberon discovers the relations of 
Helena and Demetrius, and resolves to interfere. It must, however, 
be observed that tlje fairies are not merely complicating agent^in 
other peo|)le’s stories. Their quarrels and jealousies, and the trick 
played by Oberon on Titania, independently illustrate the ‘Maw- 
i essness of lov e ”, whiclHs the central Idea of the play. Thj? fairies 
are, in a sense, always young, and, therefore, they nev^r outgrow 
the characteristics of youthful love. Also, they are supernatural, 
and as such symbolize the element of mystery in the said central idea. 
Cf. Introduction, p. 24. 

The Appendix A on The Fairy-zvorld should be carefully read 
with this scene. 

2- 13. On the metre, see Essay on Metre, § 17 (ii). 

3- 5. Thorough. So Q 1 : Q 2 Ff. have Through. Shakespeare 
uses either of these alternative forms to suit his metre. Halliwell 

[Act II. 


considers this passage to have been imitated from The Toetie Queette, 
vi. 285 — 

“ Through hills and dales, through bushes and through breves”. 

He argues that as the sixth book of The Faerie Queene was not 
printed untd January, 159S, the play must have been written after 
that date. The argument is thin, for (rz) the two passages may well 
he independent, and {h) if either is an imitator, it may be Spenser. 
There is no reason why the song should not have reached Ireland 
before 1 596. 'I'here is another reminiscence of the passage in Drayton s 
Nymphtdia, 309-31 1 — 

“Thorough Brake, thorough Brier, 

Thorough Mucke, thorough Mier, 

Thorough Water, thorough Fier, 

And thus goes Puck about it”. 

7. moones. The Qq. Ff. have moon's, but the metre requires 
the longer form. It is the inflected genitive of Middle English. 
Cf. iv. I. 93, “Trip we after nightes shade”; and see Konig, p. 15, 
and Essay on Metre, § 8 (i) b. 

sphere. According to modern astronomy the moon moves in 
its ‘sphere’ or ‘orbit’; but in the Ptolemaic system the sphere 
itself was supposed to move. The earth was conceived as the centre 
of nine or ten consecutive spheres, solid rings which rotated round 
it, carrying the planets and fixed stars. A more detailed description 
of this cosmogony may be found in Masson’s Globe edition of 
Milton, pp. 19, sqq. 


V. I . 

her orbs upon the green, the fairy rings. Cf. 
36 — 

“You demi-puppets that 
By moonshine do the green sour rin^els make, 
Whereof the ewe not bites”. 


and see Appendix A, §§12. 13 (tf). These rings appear to be really 
due to certain fungi, which increase very rapidly, spread outwards 
from a centre, and fertilize the herbage by their decay. 

10. pensioners. Elizabeth kept a body of gentlemen-at-arms 
under the title of Gentlemen-Pensioners, who wore a gorgeous 

14, 15. A four-foot and a five-foot line rhymed together. Cf. 11 . 
41, 42, and see Essay on Metre § 17 (il ad fin. 

15. a pearl. Cf. i. i. 211. This passage is imitated in the 
anonymous play, The Wisdome 0/ Docto* Zyodyp>oll (1600), iii. 5 ~“ 

“ ’Twas I that led you through the painted meads, 

Where the light fairies danced upon the flowers. 

Hanging on every leaf an orient pearl ”. 

Scene i.] 


It has been supposed that Dcctor Dodyfotl was written as early as 
1596, because Nash in his preface to G>ihyiel Ha}\eys Hunt is if, 
printed in that year, mentions “Doctor Dodypoule But the 
Cl. Pr. editors point out that the name wav a synonym for a block- 
head as early as Latimer's time. Nash does not, therefore, neces 
sanly refer to the play. 

Anotlier imitation of these lines mav be fouiul in (. arew’s Pastoral 
Dialogue — 

“See, love, the blushes of the morn appear; 
And now she lianas her pearly store, 
Kobb’d from the Eastern shore, 
r th’ cowslip’s ball and rose’s ear ”. 

16. lob of spirits. See (Jlossary, s.v. and .\|>pendix A, § 19. 

21. Because that. Shakespeare uses hecaust, time, and Hoause 
that, indifferently and in the same sense. See Al>bot, §§ 2S5. 2S7. 

23. changeling. See Appendix. A. §§ 13 (j), 20. 'l itania gives 
a different account of her boy in lines 123 136. 

29. spangled starlight sheen. (. f. Milton, Covins, 1003 — 

“ Far above, in spangled sheen ”. 

32. Either must be scanned here, and in ii. 2. 256, as a mono- 
syllable, on the analogy of ‘whether’ (i. i. 69). Cf. Essay 00 
Metre, g 8 (ix) b. Pope read Or. 

33. sprite. So Q I : Q2 F i have spirit. Cf. PNsav on Metre, 

33-38. Cf. Milton, 1 .' Allegro. 104-M4 — 

“.And lie, by P'riar'.s lantern led, 

Tells how the drudging goblin sweat 
To earn his cream bowl duly set. 

When in one night, eie glimpse of morn, 

His shadowy flail liad threshed the corn 
That ten day-labourers could not end ; 

Then lies him down, the lubber fiend. 

And stretched out all the chimney's length, 

Basks at the fire his hairy strength. 

And crop-full out of doors he flings, 

Ere the first cock his matins rings ”. 

35 , 36. fright. ..Skim. Note the change of person, from the 
grammatical antecedent ' he ’ to the logical antecedent ‘ you ’. 

39 - Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, ix. 634-640 — 

“As when a wandering fire, .. . 

...(Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends). 

Hovering and blazing with delusive light. 

Misleads the amazed night-wanderer from his way”. 

(M 23e) H 



41. 42. A four-foot and a five-foot line rhymed together. Cf. U. 

14, 15, and see Essay on Metre, § 17 (•) adjxn. 

46. filly. So Q I : Q 2 Ff. have silly. 

47. a gossip’s bowl, probably fdled with ‘lambs wool a com- 
pound of ale, nutmeg, sugar, toast, and roasted crabs or apples. 

Cf. Breton’s (January). “An Apple and Nutmeg make 

a gossip’s cuj) 

51. Cf. Ruhani //., v. i . 40 — 

“ In winter’s tedious nigiits sit by the fire 

With good old folks, and let them tell the tales 
Of woeful ages long ago betid”; 

and IVinliRs 7 \tUy ii. i- 25 — 

“A sad tale’s best for winter: I have one 
Of sprites and goblins”. 

54. tailor cries. Various critics have proposed to read ^ rails or 
cries' or 'tail-sore' cries (!), or 'traitor' cries. Hut there are at 
least two ade<iuate explanations of the text as it stands. Johnson 
says, “ I'he custom of crying tailor at a sudden fall backwards, I 
think I remember to have observed. Me that slips beside his chair, 
falls as a tailor srjuats upon his board.” Halliwell 
tulor is equivalent to ‘thief’, and quotes J'asijHsl' s T^ight-Lap 


“Thieving is now an occupation made. 

Though men the name of tailor do it give”. 

Tailor in this sense is probably a corruption of the older taylard. 
Furness would read taiUr-, and explain it as a fall on the tail, afler 
the analogy of ‘header’. Ilalliwell’s explanation seems the best, 
as it is the victim’s outcry that is in question and not that of the 


54, 55, cough laugh. The Qq. Ff. coff'e...loffe^ and this 

probably represents the old pronunciation. Halliwell quotes a 
ballad of Mother Hubbard, who went to buv her dog a ‘coffin , 
and when she came home foun<l him ‘ loffing . But that the pro- 
nunciation of laughitig was a moot point appears from Marston s 
Parasitaster (1606), Act iv., “Another has vowed to get the con- 
sumption of the lungs, or to leave to posterity the true orthography 
an<l pronunciation of (A curious lyih-century forerunner 
of Browning’s (irammarian !) 

56. waxen. Farmer suggested i.e. ‘hiccup’. 

58. fairy, a trisyllable. Sec Essay on Metre, § 8 (viii) and Glos- 

60-145. The eternal childishness of the fairies is seen in the light- 
hearted w ay in which they carry on their quarrels and reconciliations, 
making only another sport of their jars. 

Scene i.] 


66 -68. Cohn , Phillida. These are tradilional names of lovers 
in pastoral poetry. The first genuine English pastoral appeared in 
TotuVs Miscellany (1557) Nvith the title, Harpalus" Complaint of 
Phillidix' s Lcne bestoived on Conn that lotted her not, and deyixed hirn 
that loved her. 

67. versing, ‘ making verses of Cf. i. i. 98, note. 

6g. steppe. So (,) i : 2 Ff. have stee/'e. Cf. Miltoii, Lomus, 


“ Ere the blabbing Eastern scout, 

‘The nice Morn, on the Indian steep’, 

Fr<on lier cabin'd loop-hole peep”. 

The Q I reading has been attacked on the ground that stepf'e 
does not occur elsewhere in contemporary writers, and that in iii, 2. 
85 Q 1 misprints shppe for sleep. But it is a rule of te.xtual criti- 
cism that a rare word is more likely to be corrupted into a common 
one than viee-vei sa. 

70. the bouncing Amazon. Ilippolyta was queen of the 
Amazons. See the passages from North’s Blutarch, quoted in Ap- 
pendix L). ‘Bouncing’ is Titania's scornful epithet, flung at a rival 
of more majestic build than herself. See Appendix I. on Titana 
and Theseus. 

71. Note the characteristically antithetic line, and see Essay on 
Metre, § 12 (i). 

75. glance at, ‘attack’. See (Glossary. 

78-80. Perigenia Aegles . Ariadne . Antiopa. Shake- 
s(>eare got the roll of 'Pheseus’ mistresses from North's Plutarch. 
See Appendix D. 

78. I shouUl scan ‘Perigenia’, not ‘Perigenia’, ‘Perigenia’, or 
‘ Perigenia ’ ; as North has ‘ Perigouna ’. 

79. Aegles. The Qq. Ff. have Eagles. Most editors read 
Aegle, which is the correct classical form of the name, but Shake- 
speare found it in North as Ae.;les, and probably wrote that. 

84-116. On the probable allusion in this passage to the tempests 
of 1594. see Introduction, p. 10, and Appendix C. 

The fairies of a Midsummer Night's Drea 7 H are elemental beings, 
though not so completely so as those in The Tempest. Their bicker- 
ing disturbs the serenitv of the moon and the winds. See Appendix 

A. §13(1/). 

82. the middle summer’s spring. See note on the of the 

Play. The nearest parallel to the phrase is in Churchyard’s Charitte 
(1595), where a summer spring apparently stands for ‘the beginning 
of summer’. Spring means ‘beginning’, in such phrases as “the 
day-spring from on high ” (S. Luke, i. 78), and “ the spring of day ’* 
{2 Henry JV., iv. 4. 35). 


[Act 1 1 . 

1 16 

84. Another markedly antithetic line. 

paved. A happy epithet for a clear fountain, with a pebbled 

86. ringlets, not ‘curls’, but ‘ d.-tnces in a ring . 

88 piping to us in vain. A reminiscence of “ We have piped 
unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you. and 
ye have not lamented 

91 Hath. So the Qq. hf. Modern editors read Have, but the 
singular verb after a plural subject is too common in Shakespeare to 
reouire mu ch remark. Cf. Abbott, §§ 332-338 (especially § 334). 
an<l Appendix iv. to Mr. G. C. Moore Smith's edition of Henry I . 

in this series. 

98 nine men’s morris. /V game played on a table like the one 
here figured. Each player had a certain number, generally nine, of 
men or pins, and the object of the game was 
to move these, accortling to certain laws, so 
as to get three in a vow. 'I'he table was 
either <lrawn on a board, or cut in the turf. 

The name is probably a corruption of the 
Krench tfttrellcs or vieroiux y /V. ‘counters 
(see Glossary), and the game is also called 
in various places by the names of A/emls, 
or iXtnepenny (Nine /'in), Fhe^/enny, or 
Three-penny Morns. It must be carefully 
distinguished from Htne /'ins, ami from 
P/ine Holes, in which a ball was rolled at 
nine holes cut in the ground, or at nine 
arches, as in /iagatelle. See Alice H. Gomme, Traditional Games, 

i. 414. 

99. quaint mazes. On certain greens, such as St. Catherine s 
Hill at Winchester, complicated labyrinths are marked out on the 
grass, and are kept fresh by boys running along the windings ot 


101- 103. The connection of ideas in this passage has puzzled the 
commentators. 1 think they have been misled (<t) by the punctuation 
of the Qq. Ef-, which have only a comma at the end of line 101; 
and {h) by the assumption that ‘ hymns and carols* belong necessarily 
to ‘winter’ nights. I prefer to put a full stop after line lOl, and 
begin a new period with line 102. Then I should explain the 
passage as follows: — In lines 88-101 'I'itania describes the inclei^nt 
summer due to the revenge of the winds. She concludes : * The 
summer is so bad, that men wish it were winter 1 hen she begins 
again: “Not only have we offended the winds, but we have 
neglected the hymns and carols due from us to the moon. 
fore she too is wrathful, and does her part to spoil the weather . 
The explanation of the ‘ hymns and carols as addressed to the moon, 

Scene i.] 



may be supported from I. 1. 73. “ Cliantioi,' faint hymns to the cold 
fruitless moon”. The nuns, nym[)hs, and fairies are all treated as 
in some ways identical by Shakespeare in the play, tlnnigh I am 
not (juite sure wlieiher he is conscious that Tiiaina, or Diana, was 
herself, in anotlier as|)ect, the Moon. 

101. human mortals. 'Fhe two terms may be merely tauto- 

logous ; or there maybe a distinction between 'human mortals and 
'fairy mortals’. Tlie laines were not always considered a.s exempt 
from death. See Appendi.x A, 6, 13 iJut I incline to think 

that Shakespeare tloes so consider them here, and that tlie votaress 
of line 123 was not a fairy, but distinguished from Titania b\ Ining 

winter here. Hanmcr proposed <'/;<’<'/•, but there is no 

need for any ch.ingc of text. 

102. All the critics have been misled by Steevens, the “ Puck of 
C'nnrnentators who says: “Hymns and carols, in the time i>f 
Shakesiieare, during the season of Christmas, weie simg every night 
about the streets '. 

103. 104. the moon, the governess of floods washes all the 
air. Cf. “the watery moon’’ (line 162); also IlamUt, i, i. 1 19 — 

“ the moist star 

Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands’’; 

and ll'iuUr^s J'ale, i. 2. 426 — 

“ You mav as well 
Forbid the sea for to obev the moon 

Shakespeare regards the moon, not only as ruling the tides, l)ut also 
as <lrawing up moisture from the earth. It is true that a ‘moist’, 
* watery or ha/y moon is generally followed by rain. 

105. Accent rhett matic. From here onwarils I'itania describe.^ a 
general confusion of the seasons, ratlier than the actual facts of any 
one season. 

106. this distemperature, t.e. the disorder of the winds and 
moon. Malone interprets it, less probably, as referring to the dis- 
sensions between Oberon and Titania. 

109. thin, i.e. ‘scantily covered’. This is Tyrwhitt’s conjecture 
for the chin of the Qq. Ff. You can hardly hang a chaplet on a 
chin, (irey proposed chill. 

112. childing. So tlie Qq. F 1-3 : sec Glossary. F4 has 

113. Their wonted liveries, ‘their wonted outward appearances’. 
The line may either be scanned — 

< 4 

Their wo'nl [ ed li'v | cries, | a'nd the | ma'z’d wo rld 

which requires a rather undue stress on ‘ and ’, to avoid the succes- 
sion of four unstressed syllables, or, 

“ 'I'heir wo'nt | ed li'v ] cries, and | the ma' [ zed wo'rld”. 


[Act II. 

T i8 

114. their increase, t.e. the natural products of each season, 
which no longer serve to distinguish them, by coming at their true 

123. Cf. line 23 and note. 

135. being mortal. Cf. line loi, note. 

136, 137. \ succession of lines which all begin in the same way is 
much in Shakespeare’s earlier manner. Cf. e.g. Merchant of Venice^ 

V. I. 193, 194 — 

“ If you di<l know to whom I gave the ring, 

If you did know for whom 1 gave the ring,” &c. 

138. intend you stay. The particle ‘to’ was much more freely 
omitted before the infinitive in Elizabethan than in modern English. 
Cf. Abbott, § 349. 

146 168. On the supposed historical allusions in this passage, 
see Appendix G. 

146. thou shalt not from this grove. A verb of motion is 
often omitted between an auxiliary an<l a preposition of motion. Cf. 
Abbott, § 405. 

149. Since, in the sense of ‘when’. Cf. Abbott, § 132. 

X53. spheres. Cf. line 7, note. 

155, Oberon can see what Puck can not. Cf. Appendix A, § 14* 

156. cold. Phe moon is coUi, physically, because her rays do 
not burn like the sun’s, and spiritually, as the patroness of chastity. 
Cf. line 162. 

158. vestal. The priestesses of Vesta at Rome, like those of 
Artemis- Diana at Athens, were vowed to j^erpctual virginity. 

by the west, i.e. in Englaml, to the west of Athens. 

162. watery. Cf. lines 103, 104, note. 

168. love-in-idleness. The Viola tricolor^ or common pansy, 
is sometimes of a milky-white colour, sometimes splashed and 
stained with purple. I hc difference is probably due to the nature 
of the soil it grows in. Shakespeare’s conceit is founded upon 
divers stories in Ovid's ^fetatnorphoscs^ in which flowers are created 
or are changed in colour by the blood of some hero or heroine. 
Such is the staining of the mulberry by the blood of Pyranius. See 
Appendix E. Herrick makes frequent use of similar ideas, and sings 
“ How roses first came red, and lilies white ”. Many of the popular 
names of the pansy treat it as the emblem of boy and-girl love. It 
is called, for instance, besiiles ‘ Love in Idleness’, ‘Cuddle me to 
you ’, and ‘ Meet me in the Entry, and Kiss me in the Buttery , 

174. Cf. Chapman, Bussy D' Ambois^ Act i. sc. i — 

" In tall ships richly built and ribbed with brass, 

To put a girdle round about the world 

184. another herb, the ‘Dian’sbud’. Cf. iv. i. 72. 

Scene i.j 



186. I am invisible. It is not necessary for Oheron to tell Puck 
this, but it is necessary for Shakespeare to tell the audience, to 
explain how it is that Demetrius and Helena do not see him during' 
what follows. 

igo. slay,..slayeth. So Thirlby for the stay . . stayelh ot the 
Qq. Ff. 

192. wode within this wood, a pun. Q i distinguishes the 
woids as U'odde and wood-, in Q 2 Fl both are spelt -wood. See 

195-197. I do not think that Helena is drawing a distinction 
between iron and steel. 'Phe point seems to be. ‘ you draw my 
heart as adamant draws iron; yet, tliough my heart be true as steel, 
it is not in other respects like iron; i.<'. ii is not hard’. 

To get this sense, we must explain ‘ for ’ in the sense of ‘ for all 
that ’. Abbott, § 154, quotes a passage from North’s Plutarch, where 
■for all these reasons’ stands as a translation of ' noHohstaut tontes 
ces raisons'. Some editors adopt l.ettsom’s though my heart. 

195. adamant is here ‘loadstone’, more usually ‘diamond’. See 

201. nor I cannot. A double negative is common in Shake- 
speare. Cf. Abbott, § 406. 

208. worser. A doulrle comparative or superlative is also fre- 
quently found. Cf. • more better’ (iii. l. 18). Abbott, ^ 1 1 , explains 
the idiom as giving emphasis, but here at least it seems to be only 
due to the need for another syllable. 

220, 221. The Qq. Ff. punctuation is — 

“ Your Virtue IS my privilege: for that 
Jt ts \ 

The alteration in the text, due to Malone, seems to me to give a 
better sense, and a better rhythm. Neither pauses after the fourth 
foot nor run-on lines are characteristic of this play. Cf. Essay on 
Metre, § 16. 

231. The story of the flight of Daphne from Apollo, until she 
was turned into a laurel, is told in Ovid's .Metamorphoses^ i. 452, sqq. 

235. stay, ‘stay for’. 

243, a heaven of hell. The opposite idea to that contained in 
i. 1. 207. 

244. upon here denotes the cause or instrument. Cf. Abbott, 

§ 191- 

245 - Oheron again becomes an actor in the scene, and the verse 
consequently assumes a lyrical rhymed cast. 

249. A difficult line to scan. Pope boldly read ■whereon. Other 
critics treat ‘ where ’ or ‘ wild ’ or ‘ thyme ’ as a dissyllable. It may 
be an octosyllabic line, with a tripping anapaestic third foot — 

“ I know' I a bank' j where the wdld' | thyme' blows'”. 

I 20 


The trisyllable, followed by a spondee, prevents the line from being 
felt as too short. But anapaests are rare in Shakespeare s early 
plays, possibly even rarer than the elision of the before a consonant, 

“ I know' 1 a bank' [ where th’ wild' | thyme' blows'”. 

See Essay on Metre, §§ 8 (v), 12 (it*). *4* 

250. grows. Cf. line 91, note. 

oxlips. The true oxlip is the plant known to botanists as 
Primula elattor, but the plant commonly so called is a hybrid 
between the primrose and the cowslip. “ among 

the flowers of Perdita’s imagined nosegay in ll'trttcr's Jole, iv. 4. 124. 

251. woodbine, probably honeysuckle, but see iv. i. 47, note. 

It is possible to scan 

“ Quite (/ ) ver j 9pic(l with | lusc ious | wood biue i 

but this requires an awkuard elision before ‘p* in the third foot* 
and an awkward inversion of accent in the fourth foot. I should 
prefer, with Theobald, to read lush. The spelling of Q I \% (nef 
canopCd, that of Q 2 Ff. ener-cattoped or cn'er-canuoped. I erhaps, 
therefore, if the wor<l is shortened it should be by elision, not of o , 
but of ‘ ie 

252. musk-roses. The name is generally given in the llerbals 
to a large single garden rose, the Rosa vioschata. If Shakespeare 
intends a wild flower it is perhaps the low-growing brown-calyxed 
Rosa ari'eusis. 

eglantine, tlie sweet-brier, or Rosa rufiip’inosa. Arviragus 
says of Imogen in Cymbeliue, iv. 2. 220 — 

“ 'I'hou shall not lack 

The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander, 
Out-sweetenM not thy breath 

Milton, however, in /.'yllletpo <ljstinguishes the cglmiline from the 
sweet-brier, but Milton did not know much about flowers. Ut. 
Ellacombe, Plant-lore of Shakespeare. 

263, 264. man on. Did Shakespeare pronounce ‘ man with 
the broad Scotch sound of mon ? 

268. Another Biblical reminiscence; cf. Luke, vii. 8, ‘ I 
say. my servant. Do this, and he doeth it”. 

Scene 2. 

Lines 1-26, with their song and dance, are part of the masque-like 
element in the play. 'I'hc rest of the scene serves to advance the 
action of the fairy story and of the lover story. In the fairy story, 
lines 27-34 bring about the complication for which the motive was 
provided by the jealousy of Oberon in the last scene, and of which 

Scene 2.J 



the crisis will arrive in Act iii. sc. I. In the lover story (lines 35- 
156), the crisis, wliich consists of the turning of botli Deinetruis and 
Lysander from Hermia to Helena, is divided between the present 
scene and Act iii. sc. 2. I’uck’s mistake comes in as a second motive, 
to alter the effect of Oberon’s whim, and thus it is that Lysander’s 
eyes are anointeil instead of those of Demetrius. 

2. the third part of a minute. The fairies dwell in small 
degrees, both of lime and space. 

3. musk-rose buds. Cf. ii. i. 252, note. 

6. clamorous owl. Cf. Macbeth^ ii. 3. 65 — 

“ the obscure bird 
Clamoured the live-long night”. 

9. double, i.e. forked. 

II. Newts and blind-worms are harmless enough, but ‘eye of 
newt’ and ‘bliudworm's sting’ are included among the poisonous 
elements of the witches’ caldron in Macbeth^ iv. 1. 14-16. 

13. Philomel, the Greek name for tlie nightingale. 

20. spiders were held to be poisonous. Cf. Hichurd //., ii. 1. 
14, “Thy spiders, that suck up thy venom” (i.c". ‘earth's venom’). 

27-34. The trochaic metre useil here and in lines 66-83 is 
Shakespeare’s favourite rhythm for supernatural speakers. See 
Essay on Metre, § 17 (ii). 

30, 31. ounce and Pard, at any rate, were never found either at 
Stratford or Athens, but in .Is You Like It, Shakespeare introduces 
a Hon into Arden. 

35-65. There is not, as has been said in the Introduction, much 
character-drawing among the lovers, but there is a contrast between 
the maidenliness of Hermia m this scene and the somewhat on- 
coming disposition of Helena in ii. I. 188-244. 

46. * Love enables lovers to understand each other’s true meaning.’ 

49. interchained. So Qq. :the titUrchaitged of the P'f. is less 

77. A difficult line to scan. Pope rea<l near to, and Walker 
nearer, but a line of more than four feet would be out of keeping, 
metrically, witli the rest of tlie passage. I should read it with a 
rather forced accent on the last syllable to bring out the rhyme — 

“Near this' | lack-love', 1 this kill'- | courtesy'”. 

There are other iambic lines {e.g. line 74) scattered among the 
trochaic ones. 

86. darkling, in the dark. Cf. h'mg Lear, i. 4. 237, “ So out 
went the candle, and we were left <iarklmg”. Milton has, in Paradise 
Lost, iii. 39, of the nightingale — 

“ the wakeful bird 
Sings darkling”. 



89. lesser. Cf. note on ‘worser’ (ii. i. 208). 

grace, ‘answerto prayer and so, ‘good fortune’, ‘happiness’. 

99. sphery eyne, not, one may .assume, ‘ spherical ’ eyes ; but 
‘eyes tliat have the brightness of stars in their sp>heres 

104. Nature shows art. So the Qq. K 1 has l\\i(ure her shews 
art, corrected by the later Ff. into Nature here shnvs art, and by 
Malone into A'ature shews her art. Either reading will scan, accorrl- 
ing as you make a dissyllable or a trisyllable of ‘Helena’. 

108, 109. These jerky lines, with their staccato emphasis, and 
reiteration of the sound ‘ so. ..though. ..though may be looked 
upon as comparatively yotUhful work. 

113. Helena I love. So Q i. Q 2, Ff. \\ss\c Helena u<nv I lovt. 

1 18. ripe. I think it is right to take rtpe as a verb here. Cf. As 
You Ltke It, Ii. 7. 26 — 

“ And so from hour to hour we ripe aird ripe. 

And then from hour to hour we rot and rot”. 

1 19. My reason has reachetl the ‘ jioint ’, that is, the ‘ height ’ of 
human ‘ skill ’ tir ‘ wistlom’, in learning to appreciate Helena. 

120. marshal. The herakl or juirsuivant, who leads a dignified 
procession. See Glossary. 

122. love’s richest book. Cf. Lofe's Labour's Lost, iv. 3. 350— 

“ From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive : 

They sparkle still the right rromethcan fire; 

I'hey are the books, the arts, the academes. 

That show, contain, and nourish all the world 

and Romeo and Jultet, i. 3. 81 — 

“ Read o’er the volume of yotmg Paris’ face, 

* • • • • • 

And what obscured in this fair volume lies, 

Find written in the margent of his eyes ”. 

150. you. SoQq,: Ff. ready*-/. 

154. of all loves. Of '\s often use<l in protestations: cf. Abbott, 
§ 169. In Othello, iii. I. 13, Q 1 has "of all Icn'es" , which is 
altered in F i into " for lore's sake". Cf. also Ttvel/th Night, v. I. 
237, “ Of charity, what kin arc you to me ?” 

156. Either must be scanned as a monosyllable: cf. ii. i. 32, 

Act III. -Scene I. 

In this scene the fairy story and the rustic story meet. The action 
is so contrived that one event, the translation of Bottom, serves 0$ 
the complication in them both ; in the rustic story, by breaking up 

^cene I.] 



the rehearsal; in the fairy story, by providing a monster for I itania 
to fall in love with. The result of this combination is to provide 
just that absurd mixture of masque and anlimasque, the i>roadly 
farcical and the delicately beautiful, which the Elizabethan taste 

Bottom an<l his fellows have come to the same part of the wood 
in which the last scene took place. The elves have tleparted on 
their various offices, and Titania is sleeping on her bank. She is, 
of course, invisible to the rustics. 

4. tiring-house, that is, ‘attiring-house’ or ‘green room’ ; which, 
in the Elizabethan theatre, appears to have been a room immediatedy 
behind the stage. 

6. Bottom has an important criticism to make. He clears his 
throat to call attention, and addresses himself in a loud voice to the 

12. By ’r lakin, in full, ‘ by our ladykin’ or ‘ little lady , is, like 
‘marry’, an oath by the Virgin Mary. Q l spells it Bo la km \ 
Q 2 Ff. Ber taken. 

15. Bottom has not raised the difficulty without being prepared to 
solve it. 

16. a prologue. The * TrpAXoyos ‘ prologue ' or ‘ fore-word , of 
Greek drama, was the name given to the opening scene, in which the 
situation of the dramatis persona was generally described by one of 
them. It lingered in the Elizabethan drama, not as part of the 
action, but as an introductory speech delivered from the stage before 
the actual plav began. Shakespeare introduced a prologue into the 
interlude in Hamlet, Act iii. sc. 2, and uses the device himself in 
Henry V. and in Romeo and Juliet. But the Elizabethan prologue, 
unlike the (jreek one, generally gave an outline of the coming plot. 
Cf. Hamlet, iii. 2. 151. “We shall know by this fedlow ; the players 
cannot keep counsel; they’ll tell all”. Sometimes, however, it was 
rather of the nature of an address or apology from the actors or the 
poet to the audience. Ben Jonson so uses it ; and tliat is 
Bottom here proposes. .-\n epilogue occasionally, as in As } on Like 
It, served a similar purpose. 

18. more better. Cf. note on ‘ worser’ in ii. i- 208. 

19. not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver. Cf. line 47. 
Malone finds here a reminiscence of an event of which an account 
is preserved in a MS. collection of jests made by Sir Nicholas 
L’Estrange in Harl. MS. 6395 ^ “There was a spectacle presented 
to Queen Elizabeth upon the water, and among others Harry 
Goldingham was to represent Arion upon the dolphin s back ; but 
finding his voice to be very hoarse and unpleasant, when he came 
to perform it, he tears off his disguise, and swears he was none ol 
Arion, not he, but even honest Harry Goldingham; which blunt 
discovery pleased the queen better than if it had gone through in 



the right way : yet he could order his voice to an instnunent exceed- 
ing well Scott has used this incident in Ktnihvorth. 

22. eight and six; t.t. alternating lines of eight and six syllables 
respectively, the metre of Bottom’s song (lines i 17- 120), and the 
‘common metre’ of the metrical psalms. 

Quince appears to be the author of the interlude. He is doubt- 
less the local poet. Bottom says in iv. 1. 209, 210, “ I will get Peter 
Quince to write a ballad of this dream 

23. Bottom’s only reason for objecting to ‘eight and six’ is that 
he wants to have things his own uay. 

28. a lion among ladies. Malone finds here an obvious allusion 
to an event at the christening of Prince Henry of Scotland on 30th 
August, 1594. It is thus described in a printc<l description dated 
1603. A triumphal car was drawn in by a blackamoor. “This 
chariot shouhl have been drawn in by a lion, but because his presence 
might have brought some fear to the nearest, or that the sight of 
the lights and torches might have comniovcd his tameness, it was 
thought meet that the Moor shouhl supply that room.” It is surpris- 
ing tliat more notice has not been taken of this allusion as helping 
to determine the date of our j>lay. See Introduction, p. lO. 

29. fearful wild-fowl, a delightfully topsy-turvy phrase. 

30. your. Cf. i. 2. 80, note. 

35. defect. Bottom means ‘ efTcct *. 

39. pity of my life, a common phrase. Of has the sense of 
‘concerning’, ‘about’. Cf. ‘desire you of more acquaintance’ 
(line 163), and Abl>ott, § 174. 

42. there is two hard things. A singular verb goes more 
readily with a plural subject when the verb comes first. Cf. Abbott, 

§ 335 - 

48. See the note on the Time of the Play. 

52, 53. a bush of thorns and a lanthorn. Cf. v. i. 248 250, note. 

53. disfigure. Bottom means ‘ figure forth ’. 
present, a technical stage term for ‘act’. 

58. Bottom, for all his swagger, is justly looked up to as a man 
of considerable resources. 

59. and let. So Collier for the or let of the Qq. Ff. 

67-94. It is noteworthy that the passages here rehearsed do 
not form part of the (>lay as prcsentc<l in Act v. ; an<l further, that the 
prologue actually used is not written cither in ‘eight and six ’ or 
‘eight and eight’, but in ‘ten and ten'. Again, Starveling, Snout, 
and Quince do not play Thisby’s mother, Pvranms’ father, and 
Thisby’s father, as was arranged in Act i. sc. i, for those characters 
do not appear at all. The actors assigned to them probably play 
Prologue, Wall, and Moonshine. One gathers that Quince revised 
his play between this rehearsal and the performance, though there is 
no mention of a second rehearsal. The inconsistency is quite easily 

Scene i.] 



understood. It would be very tedious for Shakespeare’s audience to 
go a second time over the same bit of bnrles<]ue. 

67. hempen home-spuns. Has Shakespeare remembered the 
part that hemp, at one time more cultivated in England than now, 
plays in the traditional stories of kobm Goodfellow? See Appendix 
A, § 18 (d>. 

73. Odorous, odorous. The Qq. have O'.ionrs, odorous-, the Ff. 
odours, odours. 1 have ventured to adopt Collier’s emendation. 
The Ff. reading makes Quince’s correction as absurd as Bottom’s 
original mistake. Cf. the “ ca[)arisons are odorous” of Sheritlan’s 
Mrs. Malaprop. 

74. odours. Bottom has n-U quite caught the right word even 

78. Puck’s instinct for mischief suggests to him a trick which will 
fit in adinirahlv with Oberon's scheme to make 1 itaiiia ridiculous. 

84. Jew. Why /co, except ft>r tlie jingle with ‘juvenal’? Ac- 
cording to llie legend, Pyramus and 1 hisbe were ol Babylon, but 
perhaps this is near enough to for Shakespeare. 

92. For some hints whence Shakespeare may have got the idea 
of transformation to an ass, see Ap(ieiulix A, § 18 (</). In the prose 
History of Dr. Fauslus, the magician puls asses' heads on the guests at 
a banquet. The Cl. Pr. ed. quotes a receipt for the transformation 
from Copland’s translation of Alberlu-> Magnus. Dt Secretis Aa/ura. 

This line is variously punctuated by the commentators. I think 
the sense is — 

' If I were, fair Thisby, [ifl I were only tliine 

But perliaps the punctuation of the text, which is also that of the Qq. 
Ff., should be retaine<l, and Bottom be supposed to blunder over his 
stops, like Quince in his Prologue (v. 1. 108-I17). 

95. On Puck’s powers of transformation, &c., see Appendix A, § l6. 

96. Cf. ii. I. 3-5. 

98. a fire, in his capacity as Will o’ the W'isp, or i^^uis foiuus. 

105, 106. you see an ass-head of your own, do you ? Bottom 
must not be supposed now, or at any time, to realize the full natuie 
of the change that has befallen him. So far, of course, he has not 
realized that there has been any change at all. There is a comic 
irony in his allusions to asses here and in iv. i. 205. s</i/. | 

have a meaning to his hearers wliich he does not know of. Iialh- 
well says that Bottom is using a vernacular Elizabethan retort, and 
compares Merry It'ives — 

“ You shall have a fool’s head of your own 

Johnson very unnecessarily proposed to end Snout’s speech thus: 
vjhat do / see on thee? an ass's head? 



107. translated, * transformed see Glossary. 

108. make an ass of me. Cf. lines 105, 106, note. 

1 12. ousel cock. An ousel, or ivooul, was the ordinary name for 
a blackbird. 

1 15. little quill. This refers to the shrill note of the wren, rather 
than to its diminutive wing-feathers. 

116. Malone finds in this line a parody of the famous one of 
Hieronimo in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy — 

“ What outcry calls me from my naked bed?" 

118. plain-song cuckoo. Mr. Chappell defines plain-son^ as 
song in which “ the descant rested with the will of the singer’ . as 
opposed to “prick-song", t.e. “ harmony written or pricked down". 
Hut is not the real point rather that plain-song is unvarying tradi- 
tional melody, whereas in prick -song elaborate variations were 
introduced? I’lain-song was a term originally applied to gr^C, 
simple ecclesiastical chants. *lhis distinction exactly fits the differ- 
ence between the monotonous note of the cuckoo, and the richly- 
varied music — “ brave prick-song " Lyly calls it — of the nightingtde. 
But the cuckoo’s note is <lefinitely song. Mr. W. W. I'owler, in his 
^utntner Stuiltes of littds and Hooks, points out that this is one of the 
/ew birds, the intervals of whose voices agree with those of our 
ficial musical scale. Generally the cuckoo sings in a minor third. 
This was observed by While of Selborne, and by Browning, who 
speaks of— - 

“ the word in a minor third 
There is none but the cuckoo knows". 

But all cuckoos occasionally, and some of them always, prefer some 
other interval, such as a major third. 

ixg. 'I he note of the cuckoo, resembling a mocking repetition of 
“cuckold, cuckold", was supposed to hint to the hearer that his 
wife had been unfaithful to him. Cf. I.ozfs Labour s Lost, v. t. 90® 

“ The cuckoo then, on every tree, 

Mocks married men ; for thus sings he, 

Cuckoo ; 

Cuckoo, cuckoo : O word of fear, 

Unpleasing to a married ear". 

125-127. 'Phis is the order of the lines in Q i ; Q 2 Ff., by an obvious 
error, place 127 before 125. 

133. 'I'here is a fine ironical humour in Shakespeare’s handling of 
the scenes between 'I'itania and Bottom. The compliment contained 
in the present line is ambiguous, and the audience may take it in 
what way they will. 

Scene 2.] 



138. On Titania’s description of herself, see Appendix A, § 13 {d), 
and cf. Nash’s Sitmtner^s Last Will — 

“(lied had I indeed unto the earth. 

But that Eliza, England’s beauteous queen, 

On whom all seasons prosperously attend, 

Forbad the execution of my fate”. 

No doubt Shakespeare would be williny; to let Elizabeth believe her- 
self complimented in the character of Titama. 

150. dewberries, the fruit of the Rubus Ciisius, a low-growing, 
large-berried kind of bramble. 

154. the fiery glow-worm's eyes. It is, of course, the tail of 
the glow-worm, and not its head, that is phosphorescent. Shake- 
speare’s observation is that of the poet, rather than the naturalist. 
He believes the sling of the adder to lie in its tongue : cf. iii. 2. 72, 
and Richard //., iii. i. 20 — 

“ a lurking adder, 

Whose double tongue may with a nmrtal touch 
Throw death upon the sovereign’s enemies”. 

But perhaps by ‘ fiery eyes ’ Shakespeare here means ‘ eyes, or spots 
of light’. Cf. iii. 2. 188, ‘ all yon fiery oes and eyes of light '. 

160. mercy, i.t. ‘pardon’. 

163. desire you of more acquaintance. ‘Of’ has the sense 
of ‘as regards’. Cf. ‘pity of my life’ (line 44). and Abbott, § 174. 

164. if I cut my finger. Cobweb is popularly used as a styptic, 
to stanch blood. 

167. Squash, an unripe peascod; cf. Glossary. 

178. a watery eye. Cf. ii. i. 103, note; and ii. i. loi, note, on 
the moon as a patroness of chastity. 

180. enforced chastity, not ‘compulsory chastity’, but ‘violated 

181. Another finely-humorous tciuch to finish up the scene, 
love’s. So Pope, for the loz’crs of the Qq. Ff. 

Scene 2. 

This long scene deals almost entirely with the story of the lovers, 
taking it up where it was dropped at the end of Act ii. scene 2. 
There are just sufficient references to the fairy story in lines 1-34 
and lines 374-377 to prevent it from passing altogether out of mind. 
Act i. scene 2 contained the first step in the complication of the 
lover story, in that, through Oberon’s good -nature, and Pucks 
mistake, Lysander’s love was turned from Hermia to Helena. The 
present scene contains, (1) the second step in this complication, 
the diversion of Demetrius’ love also to Helena; (2) the crisis, in 



the angry disputes of the men and maidens; (3) the beginning of 
the resolution, or unravelling, by the application of the antidote to 

Lysander’s eye. , ^ , ... 

The scene is laid in another part of the wood from that m which 

both Act ii. sc. 2 and Act iii. sc. I took place. 

1-40. Puck reports to Oberon his success in making Titania 
ridiculous, and, as he thinks, in bewitching Demetrius with Helena. 

3. in extremity, to an extreme degree. 

5. night-rule. This has been somewhat fantastically regarded 
as a corruption of ‘night-revel’; but it does not seem to mean any- 
thing but ‘ order kept by night’. Halliwell quotes from the statutes 
of London, as given in Stow’s Sut'i'tj', “No man shall, after the 
hour of nine at the night, keep any rule whereby any such sudclcn 
outcry be made in llie still of the nijjlit, as making any affray • Ck 
also TiiW/th Night, ii. 3. 132, “Mistress Mary, if you prized my 
lady’s favour at anything more than contempt, you would not give 
means for this uncivil rule”. 

13. thick-skin. Hanmer needlessly read Cf. Phile- 

mon Holland, Pliny, i. 346. “Some measure not the fineness of 
spirit and wit by the purity of bloorl, but suppose that creatures are 
brutish, more or less, according ns their skin is thicker or thinner . 

sort, company. See Glossary, s. v. 

19. mimic. In the sense of ‘actor’. Q i has mitittick, Q 2 
minttock, F I mimmick. Ebsworth argues in favour of minmek in 
the sense of minnikm, effeminate. It would be used ironically of 
Bottom, ‘my dainty fellow’. Ritson proposed tnammock, ‘ a huge 
misshapen thing’. 

21. russet-pated choughs, jackdaws with russet or ashen*^y 

heads. Mr. Bennett {Zcol. Journal, v. 496), taking ‘russet as 
‘red’, proposed russtt-fatUit, as referring to the red legs of the 
Cornish chough. See Glossary, s.v. Pusset. 

25. at our stamp. The fairies, os elemental beings, have tlie 
power of shaking the earth. Cf. Appendix A, § 13 {<f)« *• 

53, where Oberon says — 

“ Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands 
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be”. 

Cf. the ‘hemton hamten’ passage quoted from Scot in Appendix A, 
§ 18 (rt), which here, as in iii. I. 79, may have stuck in Shakespeare s 
memory. Johnson, however, proposed to read at a stump^ and 
illustrated it from Drayton’s Nymphidta— 

“ A slump doth trip him in his pace.^^ 

Down fell poor Hob upon his face”. 

32. sweet. Often used contemptuously by Shakespeare. See 

Scene 2.] 



41-87. Hermia discovered the absence of Lysander at the close 
of Act ii. scene 2. In seeking for him she falls in with Demetrius. 
He WOOS, and she responds with questions as to Lysander. In the 
end she goes, and Demetrius lies down to sleep. 

45. should, ought to. 

49. The broken line may be explained by the change of subject. 
Hermia is lost for a moment in contemplation of the virtues ot 
Lysander, before she begins again in a slightly different direction. 

54. displease. SoQq. Ff. Some editors accept Hanmer’s quite 
unnecessary disease. 

55. Her brother's. The classical moon-goddess, Phoebe, was 
sister of the sun-god, Phcebus or Apollo. 

the Antipodes, that is, properly, not the opposite hemi- 
sphere itself, but the dwellers there, whose feet are over against ours. 
Cf. Rich. //., iii. 2. 47, where Richard compares himself to the sun — 

“ this thief, this traitor, Bolingbroke, 
Who all this while hath revell’d in the night 
W’hilst we were wandering with the Antipodes ”. 

57. dead, deadly. See Glossary. The double sense of the word 
gives Demetrius his opportunity for a retort. 

73. doubler tongue. Here again Shakespeare’s natural history 
IS at fault. Cf. iii, i. 154, note. But of course the adder’s double 
tongue IS symbolical of the doubleness of treachery. 

74. a misprised mood, a mood caused by misprision, or mistake. 

80. Pope added so, which is omitted in the Qq. Ff. 

87. his tender, i.e. 'sleep’s tender*. 

88-176. Oberon gathers from what he has overheard that it is not 
Demetnus whose eyes have been enchanted. He resolves to repair 
the erro^ sends Puck for Hermia, and in the meantime himself 
arjoints Demetrius* eyes. Helena enters, still wooed by Lysander, 
who had followed her at the end of Act ii. scene 2. Demetrius 

^ soon as his eyes fall upon Helena, begins to 
woo her. So that now the fairies have brought about a double 
laithlessness, and both of Ilermia’s former lovers have left her for 

9*» 93- Puck glances at the central idea of the play. Whatever 
we may do, fate will have it so that most men are false and change- 
able m love, 

... that cost the fresh blood dear. Cf. s Hen. F7., 
lu. 2. 60-63 

** Might liquid tears or heart-offending groans 
Or blood-consuming sighs recall his life, 

I would be blind with weeping, sick with groans, 

Look pale as primrose with blood- drinking sighs”. 

( H 236 ) T 



97. Cost. Ff. read costs, another instance of a singular verb after 
a plural subject. Cf. ii. i. 91, note. 

loi. Douce quotes Golding’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, 
Bk. X., “Swift as arrow from a Turkye bow”. Cf. also Drayton’s 
P/ymphttim — 

“ And through the air away doth go, 

Swift as an arrow from the bow”. 

And Chaucer, Marchantls Tale, 428 — 

“Than shal your soule up to hevene skippe. 

Swifter than dooth an arwe out of the bowe”. 

113. a lover’s fee. Halliwell explains this as meaning proverbi- 
ally three kisses. He quotes an old ballad — 

“ How many? says Batt; 

Why, three, says Matt, 

For that ’s a maiden’s fee”. 

1 19. alone, that is, ‘unequalled’. Cf. Ant. and Cleo., iv. 6. 30 — 

“ I am alone the villain of the earth”. 

120, 121. It is the essence of Puck to delight in mischief. See 
Appendix A, § 1 6. 

129. truth kills truth. ‘If Lysander’s present vows to Helena 
are true, then he must have been perjured to Hermia.’ 

136. Lysander’s confident assertion of l')emetrius’ love for Hermia 
leads up dramatically to the latter’s declaration to Helena. 

t37->44- These lines are amusingly reminiscent of the traditional 
hyperboles in which Elizabethan sonnetteers celebrated the charms 
of their mistresses. 

144. princess of pure white. There does not seem to be any 
difficulty in this phrase as applied to a lady’s hand, but Hanmcr 
thought it necessary to read ptsreness, and Collier impress. 

150. join in souls, ‘agree together’. Helena thinks throughout 
the scene that the two men have conspired with Hermia to mock 
her. Against this ungenerous conduct she makes a very proper and 
spirited protest. Here, too, the commentators have boggled, for in 
souls reading in /louts, insolents, ill souls, in s/>ort, in sooth, in shoals (1), 

&c. &c. 

160. extort, wrest away. 

177-344, Hermia, still pursuing Lysander, enters to complete the 
situation, and in the humorous absurdities of the passage that follows, 
the lover story reaches its crisis. Helena still thinks she is flouted, 
and that Hermia is in the plot; finding Hermia to be downright 
angry, she gets frightened, and would gladly escape to Athens. Ly- 
sander and Demetrius end by going off to fight for Helena. Hermia 
at first believes that Lysander is only scorning Helena; when she 

Scene 2.] 



realizes that she has lost her lover, she flies into a passion, and 
wishes to do her rival an injury. There is more difierentiation of 
character here than elsewhere in the story, between Hermia, the 
diminutive shrew, and Helena, the long-legged coward. 

177. his. This is the usual form in Elizabethan as in Middle 
English for the possessive of the neuter as well as of the masculine 
pronoun. * Its’ was just coming into use in Shakespeare’s time. 
It is common in Florio’s Montaigne, but is never found in the 1611 
version of the Bible. Both Shakespeare and Milton avoid as far as 
possible the necessity for using either form. But where it cannot be 
helped, Milton always uses its, while Shakespeare prefers his. Its 
only appears six times in the early editions of his plays, and all of 
these are in F I. The Q i of King Lear, iv. 2. 32, has /M, which is 
probably a misprint for the uninflected pronoun it, which was used 
as a possessive in the Midland dialect. This is found several times 
in Shakespeare. See Sweet, Short Snglish Grammar, § 399; Abbott, 
§ 228; and G. L. Craik, English of Shakespeare, pp. 91-97. 

i88. oes and eyes of light. There is probably a pun here. 
Shakespeare elsewhere uses O for a circle. In Hen. V., Prol. 13, he 
calls the theatre a “wooden O”; and in Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2. 81, 
speaks of “this little O, the earth”. Cf. also Bacon, Essay yj, 
“And oes or spangs, as they are of no great cost, so they are of most 

20X. O, is all forgot? So Qq. Ff. Many editors adopt Spalding’s 
conjecture, O, is it all forgot', but the O really represents a sob, and 
is metrically equivalent to two syllables. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 14. 

203-214. Marshall quotes a somewhat similar description of girl- 
friendship from Two Noble Kinsmen, Act i. sc. 3. 

203. artificial gods, that is, I suppose, gods whose creative power 
works in the sphere of art, not nature. Shakespeare expresses almost 
any relation between two ideas by making one of them adjectival to 
the other. 

204. needles, a monosyllable. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 7. 
Q^^Ff^*^ "Theobald suggested first, like, for the first lifi of the 

Douce explains the passage thus: “Helen says, ‘we had two 
seeming bddies, but only one heart*. She then exemplifies her 
position by a simile — ‘we had two of the first, i.e. bodies, like the 
double coats in heraldry, that belong to man and wife as one person, 
but which, like our single heart, have but one crest*.** But heraldi- 
cally of the first signifies the repetition of identical quarterings more 
than once in the same shield. Helena likens Hermia and herself 
to such quarterings, and as they are due but to one bearer, and are 
surmounted with his single crest, so she and her friend had but a 
single heart. 

220. passionate. Fi inserts this word, accidentally omitted in 
the Qq. 



237. persever is reg\ilarly so accented in Shakespeare. Cf. Essay 
on Metre, § 7, 10 N.H. i. 

242. argument, subject of jest. 

250. prayers. So Theobald for the praise of the Qq. Ff. 

256. It begins to dawn upon Hermia that Lysander is In earnest. 

257. Ethiope. Cf. line 263, “out, tawny Tartar”. I suppose 
that Hermia is intended to be a dark beauty and Helena a fair one. 
Brunettes were out of fashion in the reign of the blonde Elizabeth. 

257, 258. The Qq. have — 

Dem. no, no: he'll 

Seem to break loose, 

and the Ff. — 

Dem. No, no. Sir, 

Seem to break loose. 

The arrangement of the text, which I have adopted, was suggested 
by Mr. G. Joicey in Notes and Queries, 8lh series, iii. 102. Mr. Joicey, 
however, gives the first half-line to Helena. But it is Hermia who 
has flung her arms round Lysander, and is holding him back from 
fighting. The Cambridge editors give the whole to Demetrius, 
supposing him to begin his taunt impersonally, “No, no, he’ll” [not 
fight]; and then, breaking off, to address Lysander directly. 

260. thou cat, thou burr. The point is in the way Hermia is 
clinging to him. 

265. Helena still thinks that both Lysander and Hermia are play- 
ing a pre-arranged comedy. 

275. Since night, i.e. ‘since night fell’; it is still the same night. 
282. juggler, a trisyllable. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 8 (iii). 

canker-blossom. I'his may mean either (I) a ‘worm i’ the 
bud’, a noxious grub, which spoils the flowers, as Helena has spoilt 
Lysander's love for Hermia. This is the usual meaning of the word 
‘canker*. So in ii. 2. 3 Titania bids her elves “kill cankers in the 
musk-rose buds”; or it may be (2) the blossom of the dog-rose, 
Hosa eanina, which was sometimes called the Canker-rose. Cf. 
Sonnet 54 — 

“The canker-blooms have full ns deep a dye 
As the perfumed tincture of the roses. 

Hang on such thorns and play ns wantonly 
When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses: 

But, for their virtue only is their show. 

They live unwoo’d and unrespected fade, 

Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so; 

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made.” 

‘Canker’ sometimes has this sense; cf. i Henry IV., i. 3 - * 75 — 

“To put down Richard, that sweet, lovely rose, 

And plant this thorn, this canker, Bolingbroke”; 

Scene 2.] 



and i\fuck Ado, i. 3. 27 — 

“ I bad rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace 

If this is the meaning of ‘canker-blossom’ here, Hermia’s point will 
be that Helena has juggled herself into Lysander’s afifections, and is 
as poor a substitute for her rival, as the canker-blossom is for the 
garden rose. 

288. you counterfeit, you puppet, ‘ you doll that dost ape 

292. Scan 

“And with | her per' ) spnage, her | tall' per' | sonage”, 

and note the same word pronounced as a dissyllable and a trisyllable 
in the same line. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 8 (ii) b. 

296. thou painted maypole. Stubbes, in his Auatomie 0/ 
Abuses describes the Maypole as “some tyme painted with 

variable colours”. The dark Hermia is jeering at her rival’s pink* 
and-white cheeks. 

329. hindering knot-grass. The knot-grass is Polygonusn avicu- 
tare, a low-growing herb of the Buckwheat family. It is probably 
called ‘ hindering because it was supposed to stunt the growth of 
children. Cf. Beaumont and Fletcher, 7 'he Knight 0/ the Burning 
Pestle, “ Should they put him into a straight pair of gaskins, 
twere worse than knot-grass, he would never grow after it”; and 
The Coxcomb, ** We want a boy extremely for this function, kept 
under, for a year, with milk and knot-grass”. But the ‘knot-grass’ 
also ‘hinders* the plough, and is called in the north the Deil’s- 
hngels; just as another plant is, for the same reason, known as 
Rest-harrow. Milton must have intended by 

“ the savoury herb 
Of knot-grass dew-besprent ”, 

on which the flocks feed in Comus, some kind of pasture grass. 
But then Milton knew nothing of natural history. 

338. The duel between Lysander and Demetrius for Hermia may 
be suggested by that between Palemon and Arcite for Emilia in the 
Knightis Tale. 

344- This line is accidentally omitted in Fi, which gives no Exit 
for Helena or Hermia. 

344~400. This episo<le begins the unravelling of the lover story. 
The humorous confusion is to continue a little longer, and then 
Lysander is to be restored to his love for Hermia, while Demetrius 
IS to retain his for Helena. Oberon also prepares for the similar 
unravelling of the fairy story. 

347. king of shadows. On this description of Oberon, see 
Appendix A, § 13 (A). 

349- Cf. ii. I. 263. 



351. ’nointed. For the omission of the initial syllable, see 
Essay on Metre, § 8 (iv). 

355. On the power of the fairies to overcast the night, see Ap- 
pendix A, § 13 {d). The scene irresistibly reminds one of the battle 
between Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Through the Looking-glass^ 
and tlie characters of those heroes are about as much differentiated 
as those of Lysander and Demetrius. 

365. With leaden legs and batty wings, a description which 
suggests both the heaviness and the darkness of sleep. 

366. this herb, the antidote referred to in ii. i. 184. It is after- 
wards called ‘ Dian’s bud ’ : cf. iv. i. 7O1 note. 

367. virtuous here combines the two senses of ‘efficacious’ and 
‘beneficent’. See (Jlossary. 

373. Here, as in Tlieseus, Shakespeare keeps in mind the difference 
between the vagaries of love in its early stages, and the assurance of 
confirmed love. 

379. night’s swift dragons. Cf. Cymbeliuey ii. 2. 48, “Swift, 
swift, you dragons of the night”; and Milton, 11 Penseroso, 59 > 

“ While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke”. 

380. Aurora’s harbinger, Venus Phosphor, the morning-star. 
Cf. Milton, May Morning, I, “Now the bright morning-star, day’s 
harbinger ”. 

381-387. Cf. Hamlet, i. 1. 149 — 

“ I have heard, 

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 

Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat 
Awake the god of day; and at his warning, 

Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air. 

The extravagant and erring spirit hies 
To his confine 

and Milton, Ode on the Nativity, 232 — 

“ The flocking shadows pale 
Troop to the infernal jail ; 

Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave; 

And the yellow-skirted fays 

Fly after the night -steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze”. 

383. crossways and floods. Suicides, whose l>odies were either 
never recovered from the water, or else buried in crossways without 
religious rites, were looked upon as especially doomed to wander. 

384. their wormy beds. Cf. Milton, On the Death of a Fair 
Infant — 

“ Thy beauties lie in wormy bed ”, 

and Charles Lamb, Hester — 

“ Yet cannot I by force be led 
To think upon the wormy bed 
And her together”. 

Act IV. Sc. i.j 



388. spirits of another sort, not mere ghosts. On the 
nocturnal habits of the fairies, see Appendix A, § 13 (/i). 

389. I take this line to mean that Oberon has dallied with the 
Morning; but some critics explain it as meaning that he has ‘ made 
sport' or ‘hunted’ with ‘the Morning’s love’, that is, Tithonus, the 
husband, or Cephalus, the lover, according to Greek myth, of Aurora. 

391. the eastern gate. Cf. Milton, VAUe^o, 59— 

“ Right against the eastern gate, 

Where the great sun begins his state”. 

392 - Cf. Sonnet 33, “gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy 

401-463. Puck leads Demetrius and Lysander in turn astray by 
counterfeiting to each the voice of the other. At last the two men 
and the two maids come separately to the same spot, and, over- 
wearied, He down to sleep. Puck then applies the antidote to 
Lysander’s eye, that on awaking he may return to his first love, 
and leave Helena for Demetrius. 

415- The Ff. have here the stage-direction. Shifting places. Per- 
haps it belongs really to line 413, and signifies that Lysander comes 
in as Demetrius goes out. Demetrius accuses Lysander in line 423 
of ‘ shifting every place ’. 

418- The Ff. have the stage-direction, Lye tiown. 

421. Ho, ho, ho! Robin Goodfellow inherited this laugh from 

the devil of the mysteries and moralities, who traditionally entered 

with it.^ In the prose Life of Robin Goodfellow the account of each 

of Robin’s tricks ends with : “ And Robin went away laughing ho. 
ho, hoh / b b . 

45 >- To your eye. So Rowe, for your eye of |he Qq. Ff. 
461. Cf. Lovds Labour^ s Lost, v. 2. 884 — 

“ Our wooing doth not end like an old play; 

Jack hath not Jill ”. 

The proverb, “All shall be well, and Jack shall have Jill”, is 
found m Heywood’s Epigrams upon Proverbs (1562), in Skelton’s 
Magnyfycence, and elsewhere. 

463. Another old proverb: cf. English Proverbs, “All is 

well, and the man hath his mare again ”. F i closes with the 

stage-direction, They sleep all the Act; that is, through Act iv. up to 
IV. I. 135. 

Act IV. — Scene I. 

The whole of this short Act is concerned with the resolution or 
disentanglement of the three stories which came to a crisis in the 
iMt. Lines 1-42 of the first scene again put before us the contrast 
between Titania and Bottom, thus connecting the motive of this 



scene with that of Act iii. sc. i. In lines 43 ” 99 » the charm is 
taken off Titania’s sight and she is reconciled to Oberon. In lines 
100- 196, a similar reconciliation comes about between the human 
lovers; while in lines 197-213, Bottom is restored to his normal 
aspect without any loss of self-satisfaction. 

X 42. The contrast l)etween Bottom’s coarse tastes, and the dainty 
delights which Titania proffers to him, is humorously touched. The 
point is emphasized by making Titania speak in blank verse, and 
Bottom in prose. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 19. 

2. amiable. Literally ‘lovable’; here used rather of physical 
than mental qualities: cf. GU)ssary. 

3. musk-roses. Cf. ii. i. 252, note. 

12,13. the honey-bag. Marshall quotes from Kirkbyand Spence’s 
F.ittomologyy ‘ ‘ The honey is conveyed through the oesophagus into 
the first stomach, which we call the honey-bag, and which, from being 
very small, is swelled when full of it to a considerable size”. 

19. leave your courtesy, ‘do not wait for elaborate compli- 
ment’, ‘put on your hat’. Mustard-seed is bowing and scraping 
before Bottom. Cf. the scene l>clween Hamlet and Osric in 
V. 2. 82, sqq. Bottom is adapting himself to the manners of courts. 

21, 22. Cavalery Cobweb. It was Pease-blossom who was to 
scratch (line 7), and Cobweb was sent after a honey-bag (line 10); 
but the alliteration of Cm'aUiy Cohv^O, jKuallel to that of ‘ Mounsieur 
Mustardsced makes it probable that the slip was Shakespeare's. 

27. the tongs and the bones. The ‘tongs’ appear to have 
been a rustic instrument, like a triangle, played with a key ; the 
‘bones’ are unfortunately familiar. 'The E'f. here have the stage- 
direction Musicke Furall Musicke. 

30. a bottle of hay; not, as is generally said, a ‘truss’ of hay, 
but a smaller quantity, doubtless the same measure as a ‘pottle’ of 
strawberries. Ilalliwcll quotes a statement from a court-book of 
1551, that the halfpenny bottle of hay weighed 2'/^ poumls, and the 
)>enny bottle 5 pounds. 'The term survives in the proverbial phrase 
‘to look for a needle in a bottle of hay 

31. good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow. This passage seems 
to have suggested the bit in Through ihe Looking-glass, where the 
White King observes. “'There’s nothing like hay”; and on being 
pressed, explains, “ I <lid n’t say there was nothing belter than iiay, I 
said there was nothing like it”. 

32. 33. 'These lines as arranged in the Qq. Ff. do not scan. Pope 
treated them as prose, but Titania does not speak prose elsewhere in 
the scene. The arrangement in the text is Hanmer’s, who, however, 
read fetch thee thence for the sake of the metre. But probably hoard 
should be scanned as a dissyllable: cf. Essay on Metre, § 8 (viii). 

36. exposition. Bottom seems to mean ‘ disposition*. 

Scene i.] 



38. all ways ; i.e, in all directions. This is Theobald’s conjee* 
ture for the alwaUs of the Qq. Ff. 

39~4*‘ So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle 
Gently entwist ; the female ivy so 
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm. 

The punctuation here adopted implies that the woodbine and the 
honeysuckle are two different plants, which twine together; but the 
Qq. Ff. have — 

So doth the ivoodbiue, the sweet honeysuckle, 

Gently entwist ; 

is right, only one plant is spoken of, and ‘entwist’ must 
either govern * the elm *, or must be taken in the neuter sense of 
^twists itself together’. Now in Aluch Ado about I^othhig, iii. i. 

“ the pleached bower, 

Where honeysuckles, ripen’d by the sun. 

Forbid the sun to enter”, 

is clearly the same as ‘the woodbine coverture ’ of line 30 of the same 
scene. In our own play, the heavy scent of the honeysuckle gives the 
natural interpretation of * luscious woodbine’ in ii. i. 251; while 
"2® most authoritative botanical books of the i6th century, the 
Herbals of Turner (1568), Lyte (1578), and Gerard (1597), the two 
names are always treated as synonymous. But then Shakespeare 
was not a botanist ; the local names of plants vary considerably, and 
It IS easy to show that many other climbers besides the honeysuckle 
were actually known as woodbine. Thus Taylor, the water-poet, 

“The woodbine, primrose, and the cowslip fine. 

The honisuckle and the daffadil 

And the parallelism of the present passage makes it clear to my mind 
that two plants are meant, just as the ivy and the elm are two, and 
1 itania and Bottom are two. A point is lost if Bottom is not com- 
pared to the ‘sweet honeysuckle’. What plant, then, is here intended 
by the woodbine ? Possibly the Convolvulus sepium, the great white 
bindweed or withywind. This is apparently the meaning of the 
name in Linacre’s Herball, and we may compare Jonson’s picture of 
a garden species of Convolvulus in The Vision of Delight (1617) — 

“ Behold! 

How the blue bindweed doth itself infold 
With honeysuckle”. 

And possibly the Clematis Vitalba, or traveller’s-joy, which is called 
^oodeU’binde in an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon vocabulary (cf. Ella- 
oombe, Plant-lore 0/ Shakespeare), An ingeniously improbable 


solution of the difficulty is given by Warburton’s conjectural read- 

** So doth th€ u^oodbitte^ the sweet honeysuekle^ 

Gently en twist the maple ; ivy so 
E filings the barky fingers of the elm 

40. female ivy, Shakespeare transfers to the ivy the classical 
notion of the vine as the wife of the husband elm which supports it. 
Cf. Comedy 0/ Errors, ii. 2. 176 — 

“ Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine, 

Whose weakness marrie<l to thy stronger state, 

Makes me with thy strength to communicate”. 

46. favours, ‘ love-tokens’. So Q i : Q 2 F i have savours. 

51. Cf. ii, I. 14, 15. 

66. a dream. Cf. Introduction, p. 23. 

70. Dian's bud, the herb already spoken of in ii. 1. 184 and iii. 
2. 366. The flower intended may be the A^mus castus, of which the 
old herbals say that it “ wyll keep man and woman chaste ”. Cf. 
7 'he Flenver and the Leaf, lines 473-476 — 

“ 'I'hat is Diane, goddess of chastite, 

And for because that she a maiden is. 

In her bond the braunch she beareth this, 

That agnus castus men call properly ”. 

Or it may be, and perhaps this is more likely, the rose, the proper 
flower of Elizabeth, who loved to be called Cynthia or Diana. 

o’er. So Thirlby for the or of the Qq. Ff. 

Cupid’s flower, the love-in-idleness or pansy, already used on 
Titania in ii. 2. 27. I he connection with Cupid is explained in ii. 
I. 155, sqr/. 

"jQ. these five, the four Athenian lovers and Bottom. The fve 
of the text is Thirlby’s emendation for the fineoi the Qq. Ff. 

83. rock the ground. On the power of the fairies to do this, 
see Appendix A, § 13 (</). 

86. The plot is all but unravelled, and we begin to look forward 
to the final winding-up. 

87. prosperity. So Q i ; Q 2 Ff. have posterity. 

93. nightes. Here, as in ii. i. 7, the metre seems to require the 
old inflected genitive form. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 8 (i) b. 

100. Theseus and his train enter, and bring us a step nearer to the 

forester. 1 he Elizabethan forester was rather a huntsman than 
a woodcutter. 

101. our observation, i.e. of the ‘ rite of May ’. Cf. line 109. 
X04. An Alexandrine line. Cf. Essay on Metre, § 15. 

Scene i.) 



109. Cadmus, the mythical founder of Thebes, not elsewhere 
mentioned by Shakespeare. 

110. the bear. Theobald quite needlessly conjectured the boar. 

111. Shakespeare might have learnt from Ovid in what esteem the 
Spartan breed of hound was held in classical Greece. 

116-124. Theseus, the practical man, the man of his hands, 
takes more delight in the sport of hunting, than in intellectual 
pursuits. He is a noted huntsman already in Chaucer’s Knight^s 
T 2/e. The description of the hounds is an example of Shakespeare’s 
own skill in woodcraft. Cf. the description of the points of a horse 
in Venus and yfdonis, lines 295-300. 

ri under each, that is, some higher, some lower in note, 

like a chime of bells. The Elizabethan huntsman made much of the 

musical cry of his pack. Cf. Markham’s Coxtntry Contentments'. “ If 

you would have your kennell for sweetnesse of cry, then you must 

compound it of some large dogges, that have deepe solemne mouthes, 

and are swift in spending, which must, as it were, beare the base 

in the consort, then a double number of roaring, and loud ringing 

mouthes, whicli must beare the counter-tenour, then some hollow 

plaine, sweete mouthes, which must beare the meane or middle 

part; and soe with these three parts of musicke you shall make 

your cry perfect’. Even Addison's “very parfit gentil knight’* 

returned a present of a hound by a servant with a great manv ex 

pressions of civility but desired him to tell his Master that the^dog 

he had sent was indeed a most excellent Bass, but that at present he 
only wanted a Counter-Tenor present ne 

Dav St- Valentine’s 

u&y, cf. Donne, EpUhalamion on the Lady Elizabeth, 5-8 

. “ Thou marriest every year 

1 he lyric lark, and the grave whispering dove, 

1 he sparrow that neglects his life for love. 

The household bird with the red stomacher”. 

fancy for Hermia is no less a freak of love a 
we do 'at" JIT; vtlte 

“ Me-el' I ted as I the snow', | seems' to | me now' ”, 

Cf. Essay on Metre, § 14. 

cot° tu"e o tSo Jra ’ ^ r ‘ farmer’s 

loose, between ‘ a sickness ’ nnH “ apposition is somewhat 

‘ did I loX?his food " ^tibstantive idea contained in 



181. three and three, three men and three maids. 

183. Cf. i. 1. 122, note. 

186. parted eye, that is, with the two eyes not in focus, and so 
seeing the object separately. 

189. Mine own, and not mine own, like a jewel picked up 
in the road, which the rightful owner may claim at any moment. 
Warburton’s emendation, like a gemdly i.e. * twin’, is ingenious, but 

189, 190. Are you sure that we are awake? So the Qq. : the 
Ff. omit this sentence, which certainly makes both lines difficult to 
scan: cf. Essay on Metre, § 15. 

197-213. Bottom awakes and regards all that has happened since 
his transformation as a <iream. But that he has been an ass he has 
no notion, only that he has been adored by a most fair lady. Hence 
the irony of his situation. He would say in lines 203-205, ‘ Me- 
thought I was a gallant lover, and methought I had a garland on my 
head’; the audience know that it should be, ‘Methought I was — an 
ass, and methought I had — an ass’s nole on’. 

200. God ’s my life. As in so many oaths, there is some ellipse 
here : perhaps the full phrase is, ‘ God's blessing on my life’. Some- 
times it is still further corrupted, as in ds You Like It, iii. 5 - 43 » 
■*’Od’s my little life”. 

202. an ass. Cf. iii. l. 105. note. 

205. a patched fool. 'I'he traditional garb of the professional 
jester or court fool was a patched, parti-coloured, or motley coat. 

206-209. eye ..heard, ... car... seen, &c. An absurd inversion, 
belonging to the same type of humour ns Bottom’s characteristic 
misuse of words. There is a clear reference to / Coriuthians, ii. 9, 
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the 
heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love 

2x0, 211. Bottom’s dream. ..because it hath no bottom. Mr. 
Fleay suggests that there is here a hit at Robert Greene, who called 
one of his poems A Mai(ien'‘s Dreant, for the apparent reason that 
there was no maiden in it. 

213. at her death, that is, *at Thisbe’s death’, ns an epilogue. 
Theobald’s after death, that is, after his death as Pyramur on the 
stage, is ingenious, and commends itself to many etlitors. But has 
not Bottom confused the incidents of his dream with those of the play, 
and identified 'I'itanin with Thisbe? 

Scene 2. 

Bottom is restored to his fellows, and so the fairy story, the lover 
story, and the rustic story are all alike happily resolved. This scene 
leads on to the Fifth Act, which is all concerned with the play 

Act V. Sc. 1.3 



within the play, and serves as an epilogue to the main action. The 
stage-direction is, in the Qq., EnUr Quince^ FluUy Thisby, and the 
rabbU'y in the Ff., Enter Quince, Eiute, Thisbie, Snout, and Starve- 
ling. But of course Thisby is Flute. The second speech is given to 
Flute in the Qq. and Starveling in the Ff. The speeches given to 
Flute in the text are given to Thisby in both Qq. and Ff. 

7. Bottom has succeeded in persuading the rest of the company to 
take him at his own valuation. 

9, 10. any handicraft man in Athens, which is much the same 
in the speaker’s mind as, * any man in the world 

14- a thing of naught. Cf. Hamlet, iv. 2. 30 — 

Ham. “ The king is a thing — 

Guild. A thing, my lord ! 

Ham. Of nothing”. 

18, 19. sixpence a day. It is suggested by Steevens that there 
is here another satirical hit at Thomas Preston (cf. i. 2. 9-1 1, note), 
who^ received from Elizabeth a pension of ;^20 a year, or about a 
shilling a day, for his performance before her in the play of Eido at 
King’s College, Cambridge, in 1564. 

24. courageous. I suppose Quince means ‘ encouraging’. 

27. no true Athenian. Cf. Acts, xvii. 21, “ For all the Athen- 
ians, and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, 
but cither to tell, or to hear some new thing ”. Bottom’s anxiety 
at once to tell his tale and to keep up the mystery of it, is very 

34- our play is preferred. If preferred here means * chosen for 
performance’, as the context and Bottoni’s excitement seem to indi- 
cate, there is a slight inconsistency, for the play is not definitely 
chosen until v. i. 81. Perhaps it means ‘proffered’, as in the phrase 

to prefer a request*. 

39- No more words. No one has had much chance of any words 
but Bottom himself. 

Act V. 

This Act is a kind of epilogue to the whole play. The principal 
actions are finished, but tne presentment by the rustics of the story 
of Pyramus and Thisbe gives an opportunity for a burlesque treat- 
ment of the central theme. Here, too, young love, and the disobe- 
1!^ parents which it provokes, are the cause of the calamity. 
1 hus the Act bears the same relation to the rest of the play as 
the antiinasque, the dance of clowns or satyrs, bears to the masque 
proper. It also serves Shakespeare to introduce certain criticisms on 



poetry and the drama, as they appear to Theseus, and to that side 
of Shakespeare which Theseus represents. 

The closing lines (lines 378-424) are of the nature of an epitha- 
lamion, or wedding-song, and doubtless have a particular reference 
to the occasion on which the play was first performed. See Intro- 
duction, p. 13. 

2-22. Theseus is the practical man, more impressed with the un- 
realities of imagination than with its realities, and therefore, in this 
case at least, judging with an undue scepticism of the supernatural. 
Contrast the attitude of the unpractical, speculative Hamlet {Hamlet^ 
i. 5. 166) — 

“ There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy ”. 

And, in a sense, Shakespeare himself thinks with Theseus, for the 
fairy action is to him a dream, not true, thougli symbolical of truth. 

4. In the mind of Theseus, his own deep but sane affection for 
Hippolyta is a thing apart from such passions and absurdities of 
youthful lovers as this play treats of. 

seething brains. Cf. IVintet^s Tale, iii. 3. 64, “Would any 
but boilc<l brains of two-and-twenty hunt this weather?” and lilac- 
heth, ii. I. 38 — 

“ A dagger of the mind, a false creation. 

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain”. 

9. sees more devils. Chalmers found in this passage an allu- 
sion to Lodge’s Wit's Miserie and the World's A/aduesse : discover- 
injr (he incarnate devils of .this age (1596). But this is the emptiest 
of empty critical theories. 

11. Helen’s beauty. Helen of Troy became the type of beauty 
to the Klizal^ethans, from the time of her glorification in Marlowe^ 
Doctor Fausttis. 

a brow of Egypt, the dark features of an Egyptian, or gipsy. 
Darkness was a blemish in the age which adored the blonde Elizabeth. 

12, 13. Cf. Drayton’s description of Marlowe in the Epistle to 
Reynolds — 

“that fine madness still he did retain. 

Which rightly should possess a poet’s brain 

19, 20. ‘The mere idea of a joy is enough incentive to a strong 
imagination to conjure up and believe in the actual presence of some- 
thing which causes that joy.’ 

21, 22. These lines are rather bald after what they follow’. If the 
scene has been rewritten (cf. Introduction, p. 14), perhaps we have 
here a survival from the earlier version. 

26. i.e. holds together so constantly^ or consistently, as almost to 
compel belief. 

Scene i.] 



34. after-supper, not a separate meal from supper, but the last 
course of it, the rere-supper or dessert. 

37- a torturing hour. Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, ii. 90— 

*‘The vassals of his anger, when the scourge 
Inexorably, and the torturing hour. 

Calls us to penance 

38. Philostrate fills the position of Master of the Revels at The- 
seus’ court. In the Ff. Egeus takes the place of Philostrate in this 
scene. Perhaps the part of Philostrate was omitted to save an actor. 

39. abridgement, something to cut the hours short, a pastime. 
Hamlet uses^ the word in a rather different sense, when he says of 
me players in ii. 2. 439, “Look, where my abridgment comes”. 
He means that they are, as he calls them in ii. 2. 548, “the abstract 
and brief chronicles of the time ”. 

42. ripe. So Q I ; F i has rife. 

43* According to the Ff. Lysander reads the brief, and Theseus 
comments on it ; and probably this represents the later stage- 
practice. The Qq. make Theseus both read and comment. 

44* Hercules was attacked by the Centaurs and vanquished them, 
when he was pursuing the Erymanthian boar. Theseus himself 
w^ present, according to Plutarch, at the still more famous battle 
between the Centaurs and the Lapithae, and doubtless it is to this 
that he now refers. Cf. Appendix D. 

48. The story of Orpheus and his death at the hands of the 

M.,an.orpkos,s, Bk. xi. C£ 

“ What could the muse herself that Orpheus bore. 
ixTif herself, for her enchanting son, 

When by the rout that made the hideous roar 
riis gory visage down the stream was sent, 
iJown the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore 

conquest of Thebes by Theseus is told of in 
S Appendix^^^^^^ ^ passage quoted from Plutarch 

see^Tntroducti^n*^* Muses. On the probable allusion here. 

56-60. On the Oxymoron in these lines, see i. 2. 9-11, note. 

59; wondrous strange snow. Scan wondrous as a trisyllable. 
wo ^ous (Essay on Metre, § 8 (iii) fi). Innumerable emendations 
ve been suggested, in order to replace strange snow by an antithesis 

to hot ice, &c. Among them are scorching snow (Han- 
merj, strange black snow (Upton), seething sn<nv [CoWx^r), orange stuno 
i alley), snow (Herr), swart snow (Kinnear), and wondrous 

range jet snow (Perring). But ‘strange’ means ‘contrary to 



nature’, and therefore ‘ wondrous strange ’ sufficiently indicates the 
point of Theseus’ criticism. 

8o. stretch’d, ‘strained’. 

82, 83. Cf. Jonson, Cynthia's Rri’els, v. 3. of a masque — 

“ Nothing which tluty, and desire to please, 

Bears written in the forehead, comes amiss”. 

85. Ilippolyta protests against seeing the play merely to mock it. 
Theseus suggests another view. ‘ We shall take what they nustake, 
find our amusement in their blunders; but at the same time we shall 
appreciate tlie spirit in which the play is jirofTered.’ In Theseus, 
as in Henry V., Shakespeare finds that sympathy with the mass of 
his subjects which makes him fit to be their king. 

91, 92. noble respect Takes it in might, not merit. ' If you 
regard it as a noble mind should, you will judge it as it might have 
been, as it was intended, not as it actually deserves.’ 

93 * 94 - great clerks. Phis seems to be an allusion to the elaborate 
addresses made tluring the progresses of Elizabeth at the gates of 
every town she entered, and in particular whenever she visited 
Oxford or Cambridge. At Warwick, which Elizabeth visited in 
1572, when the Recorder had welcomed her, she replied, "Come 
hither, little Recorder. It was told me you would be afraid to look 
upon me, or to speak bohlly; but you were not so afraid of me, as I 
was of you; and I now thank you for putting me in mind of my duty, 
and that should be in me” (Nicholls, Rrogrtsses of Elizabeth^ i. 315). 
Cf. also PericUs^ v. prol. 5, "Deep clerks she dumbs”. 

g6. periods, full stops, as in the Prologue that follows. 

106. the Prologue. 'I his serve<l a tlouble purpose in Eliza- 
bethan ilrama. Sometimes it took the form of an apology for the 
shortcomings of the performance; sometimes it indicated the course 
of the plot. Here, as in the chortises which serve as prologues to 
the several Acts of Ihnry , both uses are combined. 

108. On the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, see Introduction, p. 17 
anti Appendix E. 'I'he play may be taken as a burlesque of such 
an interlude as a petlantic schoolmaster might write for a rustic 
performance, and perhaps more geiterally of the type of tragedy 
in vogue before Marlowe. The rhyme, occasionally defective, the 
incorrect classical allusions, the wealth of ejaculation, the palpable 
devices to fill up the metre, the abuse of alliteration, and the inevi* 
table bathos, are all characteristic of the primitive kind of drama of 
which Richard Edwardes’ nmf /)'////<jr is an example. Simi- 
lar burlesques may be found in the jMas</t/e of the Worthies in I^fs 
Labour^ s Lost^ and in the declamation aiul performance of the strol- 
ling players in //at?ilet. Act ii. sc. 2, and Act iii. sc. 2. Cf. also the 
account of ffarcissus in Appendix F. 

107. Flourish of trumpets. This signified that the play was 
about to begin. Cf. Decker, The Gull's Hont-book (1609), " Present 

Scene x.] 



not yourself on the stage (especially at a new play) until the quaking 
prologue hath (by rubbing) got colour in his cheeks, and is ready to 
give the trumpets their cue that he ’s upon point to enter 

The mispuncluation of the prologue is ingeniously contrived to 
pervert the sense. Rightly punctuated it would read thus — 

“If we offend, it is with our good will 

I'hat you should think we come not to offend, 

But with good will to show our simple skill: 

That is the true beginning of our end. 

Consider then; we come; but in despite 
We do not come. As minding to content you, 

Our true intent is all for your delight. 

We are not here that you should here repent you. 

The actors are at hand; and by their show 
You shall know all that you are like to know.” 

A similar use of nuspunctuation is found in Nicholas Udall’s play of 
Roister^ Doister {I 

upon points. This has the twofold sense of (i) 
mind his stops, and (2) trouble about niceties. 

123. a recorder, a flute with a hole bored in the side and covered 
with gold-beater’s skin, so as to approach the effect of the human 
voice. See Chappell, Popular Alusic of the Olden Time, p. 246. 

rr .f.*' government, not produced with musical skill. Cf. 
aam/et, ui. 2. 372, “Govern these ventages with your finger and 
um , give it breath with your .mouth, and it will discourse most 

eloquent music”. 

. . The Ff. here add the stage-direction, Tawyer with a trumpet 
with a trumpeter) before them. This is by itself almost enough 
to show that F I was printed from a theatre-manuscript of the play. 

1 awyer or Tawier was no doubt the actor who played the part of 
(Quince. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps found the entry of his burial in 
the sextons note-book at St. Saviour’s, Southwark as “William 

a\ne^ Mr. Heminges man”. Heminges was a leading member 
of the Chamberlain’s Company. 

129. certain. 1 he obsolete accent on the last syllable is satirized. 

146- Alliteration artfully used is one of the great beauties of Eng- 
lish poetry ; Shakespeare avails himself of it freely, but he satirizes 
he extraordinary abuse of it by the third-rate Elizabethan versifiers. 

1 his was partly due to the influence of Lyly’s alliterative prose, partly 
to that of the earlier English poetry, such as The Vision of Piers 
where rhyme has not yet taken the place of alliteration. 
Ihe Scottish poetry of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is also ex- 
traordinarily alliterative. With Shakespeare’s criticism, cf. Sidney, 
Astrophel and Stella, 15— ’ 

“You that do dictionaries’ method bring 
Into your rimes running in rattling rows”. 

(M 236) 




And Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie “Ye have another 

method of composing your metre nothing commendable, specially if 
it be too much used, and it is when one maker takes too much delight 
to fill his verse with words beginning all with a letter, as an English 
rimer that says, ‘ The deadly drops of dark disdain Do daily drench 
my due deserts’ Holofemes, too, in Love's Labour 's Lost., iv. I. 57, 

“ will something affect the letter, for it argues facility”. 

162. 163. Note the shocking rhyme, sinister, whisper. ‘Sinister* 
of course means ‘left’; see Glossary. 

182. Bottom cannot refrain from leaving his part, in order to set 
Theseus right : and he is dense enough to miss Theseus' point. 

195, 196. Limander . .Helen. Bottom mispronounces I.eander, 
and Quince, in writing the play, has apparently confused Helen with 
Hero. Marlowe’s adaptation of Piero and Leatider (xam the pseudo- 
Musacus appeared in 1593. But possibly Alexander (/.^. Paris) and 
Helen arc the pair of lovers intended. 

197. Shafalus...Procrus. A mispronunciation of Cephalus and 
Procris. Cephalus was a faithful lover, who shot his mistress by 
acci<lent. There is a picture by Piero di Cosimo of The Death of 
Procris in the National Gallery. A poem on the subject was entered 
in the Stationers’ Registers by Henry Chute in 1593. 

201. Ninny’s tomb. Another absurd mistake for A^mi/j* 

205. the mural down. This is Pope’s conjecture; the Qq. read 
the moon used, an<l the Ff. the moral dojvn. But ‘mural’ is not a 
word found elsewhere in Shakespeare, and perhaps we should be 
content with Collier’s the wall denvn, 

209. The practical man’s estimate of poetry; true, but only half 
the truth. 

215. The lion’s part is after all more than roaring {i. 2. 60). But 
this was necessitated by Bottom’s proposal in iii. i. 33. 

220. A lion-fell, *a lion’s skin*. This is Singer’s emendation for 
the A lion fell of the Qq. Ff. Rowe proposed No lion fell, 

236. There appears to be a vile pun between lanthorn and horned 

238. greatest, ..of all the rest. A confusion of two construc- 
tions, as in the famous Miltonic lines, in Paradise Lost, i. 323, 324 — 

“Adam the goodliest man of men since born 
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve**. 

Either “greater than all the rest” or “greatest of all** would be 
more exact ways of conveying the intended notion. Cf. Abbott, 

§ 409- 

242. in snuff, a common phrase for ‘in a passion*. 

248-250. The man in the moon was popularly represented with a 
bundle of thorns and a dog. He was variously explained as being 
either Isaac carrying the wood for his own sacrihee, or Cain sacrihe* 

Scene i.} 



ing thorns as the produce of his land, or the man in /lumbers, xv. 32^ 
who was stoned for gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day. The Cain 
theory may be found in Dante, htferno, canto xx. 

259. moused. The lion shakes the mantle, as a cat shakes a 

264. gleams. This is Staunton’s emendation for the beams of 
Qq. F I, the streams of the other Ff. The alliteration makes it a 
probable one. 

Short rhyming lines are characteristic of such primitive 
tragedies as Edwardes* Damon and Pythias. 

278, 279. A humorous way of saying ‘ This passion, by itself, does 
not move’. Steevens quotes an old proverb, ‘ He that loseth his wife 
and sixpence hath lost a tester': i.e. ‘ A wife is no loss’. 

*94* Tongue seems meaningless. I am inclined to accept the 
emendation Sun. 

297. No die, but an ace. A pun on the sense of ‘die’ as an 
ivory cube used at hazard, on which the lowest point or ‘one’ is 
called an ‘ace*. There is a further pun in line 300 on ‘ace’ and 

300. prove an ass. The humour of the jest lies in the memory 
which the audience have of Bottom’s midnight adventure. 

for. ..God bless us. This is omitted in the Ff., 
probably on account of a statute of James I., passed in 1605, for- 
bidding the use of the name of God in stage-plays. 

3*1. means. Theobald’s emendation of moans is quite un. 
necessary. See Glossary. 

3*8. lily lips. Theobald read lily brows^ thinking to get a rhyme 
to nose\ but several lines in the burlesque are unrhymcd, and the 
^teration spoils the point. With this passage cf. Peele, Old IVives 


“ Her coral lips, her crimson chin — 

Thou art a flouting knave. Her coral lips, her crimson chin!” 
See also the passages quoted from I^arcissus in Appendix F. 

323- g^en as leeks. In Pomeo and Juliet^ iii. 5. 222, the Nurse 
accounts Pans ‘green’ eye a beauty. 

324 Sisters three, the three Fates. With this passage com- 
pare Damon and Pythias— 

“Ye furies, all at once 
On me your torments try ; — 

Gripe me, you greedy griefs, 

And present pangs of death; 

You sisters three, with cruel hands 
With speed come stop my breath”. 

332. An allusion in Edward Sharpham’s The Fleire (1607) pre- 

the old stage-custom was for Thisbe to stab her- 
selt, in her confusion, with the scabbard instead of the sword. 



338. The irrepressible Bottom again puts his word in. 

338, 339- the wall is down that parted their fathers; just as 
in Romeo and Juliet^ probably written or revised about the time this 
play was written, the death of the lovers he.ils the feud between the 
Capulets and the Montagues. 

340. a Bergonnask dance. The dw-ellers in the Italian district 
of Berg.imo, like the Boeotians in classical Greece, were looked upon 
as particularly rustic. Therefore a Bergomask dance is a dance of 

357-376, The exquisite poetry of this passage comes in striking 
contrast to the rude mirth of the burlesque that has preceded it. 

358. behowls. So Theobald, for the beholds of the Qq. Ff. Cf. 
As Yon Like It, v. 2. 118, “ ’T is like the howling of Irish wolves 
against the moon ”. 

370. the triple Hecate. The tergemina Hecate or diva triforviis 
of classical myth, who was Diana on earth, Pheebe in the sky, and 
Hecate in the nether world. 

371. Cf. Appendix A, § 13 (h). 

375, On Puck as a house-spirit, see Appendix A, §§ 16, 17. 

376. behind the door. A somewhat untidy Elizabethan practice, 
unless the meaning is ‘outside the door’, or possibly ‘from behind 
the door’. 

386. It would appear that a song has been lost here, or perhaps 
two, one here, and one at line 403 ; but the Ff. print lines 408-429, 
given in the Qq. to Oberon, as I'he Song. 

387-398. Cf. Milton, Vacation Exercise^ 59-64 — 

“Good luck befriend thee, son; for, at thy birth, 

The fairy ladies dancetl upon the hearth; 

Thy drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spy 
Come tripping to tlie room where thou didst lie; 

And sweetly singing round about thy bed, 

Strew all their blessings on thy sleeping head”. 

405, 406. lines are accidentally transposed in the Qq, Ff. 

409. Shakespeare insists, by way of close, on the dream -like 
symbolical character of his play. 

419. the serpent’s tongue, i.e. hissing, the reward of a bad 
play. Steeveiis quotes Markham, English Arcadia (1607), “After 
the custom of distressed tragedians, whose first act is entertained 
with a snaky salutation”. Cf. also Lovds Labour*s Lcst^ v. I. I 44 t 
“An excellent device! so, if any of the audience hiss, you may cry, 
‘ Well done, Hercules I now thou crushest the snake’”. 

423. your hands, i.e. your applause. Cf. Tempest, Epil. lo, 
“With the help of your good hands”, and AlTs Well, v, 3. 34O1 
“ Your gentle hands lend us and take our hearts”. The plays of the 
Latin comedy regularly ended with Plaudite. 



§ I. Introduction. — Two conceptions of Fairyland have im- 
pressed themselves upon the popular imagination. One is 
that of Shakespeare, who paints the Fairies, in A Midsummer- 
Night^s Dream and elsewhere, as minute ethereal beings, 
invisible to mortal eyes, who hide themselves in the hollow 
of a nut, or the petals of a flower. Drayton and Herrick, to 
name no lesser names, have adopted this conception, and 
through them it has become traditional in English poetry 
and English art. The other is found in Perrault, and in the 
innumerable collections of fairy-tales, largely of French origin, 
which derive their inspiration from Perrault. Here the 
fairies are represented rather as enchanters and enchantresses 
than as spirits, more or less human in stature and appear- 
gifted with supernatural or magical powers. But 
It should be noticed that both of these are essentially liter ary 
conceptions. The traditional fairies of rural belief, the little 
green creatures who dwell in the fairy hills and dance in the 
miry-rings, are not quite the same as either the fairies of 
Shakespeare, or the fairies of Perrault. How then is the 
fairy of literature related to the fairy of folk-lore?^ 

§ 2. Fay and Fairy — A good deal of ink has been spilt on 
the derivation of the word Fairy. But philologists seem to 

traUonsof Faxry Mythology o/ a Midsummer-Night's Dream (1845).] 'I'. F. 

^ Shakespeare {1883). T. Keightley, Fairy Myth- 

ology T852 . Drake, Shakespeare and his Times (1817). nVI Shakespeare's 
(1859). L. F. A. Ma.iry, Les Fies du Moyen Age 

'rr c V A' hies du Moyen Age (1853). E. S. Hartland. 

^*891). W. J. Thoms, Three Notelets on Shake- 

-■ ^ ,.890). T. Rhys, vn 

K. Meyer and A. Null, The Foyage 0/ Bran and 

iiommemaehtstraum .£r/aw/^r/ (1851) : Untersuehungen undStudien {1884). 




have come to an agreement that it is descended in one way 
or another from the Latin fatutHy which means literally ‘ the 
thing spoken’, and so ‘destiny’. Properly speaking, the name 
for an individual fairy is /ay,X\\c Old French /<?/r,and modern 
French The English fairy, O.Y. faerie, M.F. feerie, is 

an abstract substantive derived from Thus in Middle 

English faerie or fairy meant originally — 

(a) the /airy land. 

" The K,yng ol Fayr6 with his route 
Com to hunte all about” (Or/eo, 273, c. 1320). 

(f) the fairy folk. 

" Away with the fayrd sche was ynome” (Or/eo, 189). 

(c) ‘ enchantment’, * illusion’. 

*' Me bi-fel a fcrly 

A Feyrie me thouhtc” (PUrs Plowman, Passus A, prol. 6). 

Gradually, however, it took the place of the concrete sub- 
stantive fay. The earliest instance quoted in the New Eng- 
lish Dictionary is 

"And as he were a fairie" (Gower, Con/essio Amantis, ii. 37 *)' 

§3. Fae and Fatum. — But how was the Old French 
derived from the Latin fatum} When the Romans con- 
quered Gaul, they found everywhere a worship of local 
divinities, Matrae, Matres, or Matronae Au^tstae, as they 
were called in inscriptions written in Latin.* These were 
generally represented as three in number, and thus afforded 
a remarkable analogy to the three Parcae or ‘Fates’ of 
classical belief. The two sets of goddesses were naturally 
identified. But in the vulgar speech of the soldiers and 
colonists the Roman Fates were called, not Parcae, but Fatae, 
a Low Latin form obtained by treating the neuter plural of 
fatum as if it were a feminine singular. Fatae then became 
a name of these Matronae or local ‘mother goddesses’. The 
cult of the Matronae was in the hands of colleges of priest- 
esses or druidcsses, generally nine in number ; and these 
druidesses appear to have practised magical rites, and to 
have possessed great power over the minds of the Celtic 
element in the population. It need hardly be said that when 
Christianity came, the reputation of the druidesses did not im- 
mediately vanish. No doubt they still exercised their priestly 

1 Lh F, a. Maury^ Let Fitt du Mcytn A/y \ Rhys, Cittic Hiatkindpm^ p. xo^ 



functions in secret, and, as they gradually died out, lingered 
in the popular memory as a centre for the universal belief 
in sorcery and enchantment. The fame of these mysterious 
women crept into literature. The foes of the earlier romances 
are in reality nothing but enchantresses ; they differ only 
from the other characters by the possession of superhuman 
knowledge and power. But to come back for a moment to 
etymology. How did these priestesses of the Fatae them- 
selves get the name of faes} Possibly through a natural 
confusion, when the old religion was forgotten, between the 
devotees of certain divinities and those divinities themselves. 
If %o,fae is derived directly from fata by the suppression of 
the t and the conversion of a into e. Or, possibly, through 
the medium of a Low Latin verb fatare^ ‘ to enchant’. These 
priestesses may have been regarded as fataiae^ enchanted or 
inspired by the Fatae \ and fatata might become fae by the 
suppression of tat^ and the conversion of a into as before. 
1 ( so, fae began as a participle or adjective exactly equivalent 
in sense to the Scotch fey', and we occasionally find it so 
used m the romances. Thus in the romance of BruJi de la 
we read: “II a des lieux fads es marches de Cham- 
in that of Parthenofex de Blots, it is said of 
the forest of the Ardennes: “ Ele estoit hisdouse et fad”. So, 
too, at a later date, in Gower’s Confessio Atnanlis (1393), i. 
* 93 - My wife Constance is fay”.* 

, § 4 - "Phe Fay of Romance. — The Fays of the romances, 
then, are primarily enchantresses. They have the command 
of supernatural arts, but they are human in size and appear- 
ance, and are often regarded as mortal. The locus classicus 
to quote, IS from Lancelot du Lac 1553), p. v.: “Kn cellui 
temps estoient appelldes fdes toutes celles qui s’entermettoient 
d enchantements et de charmes, et moult en estoit pour lors 
pnncipallement en la Grand Bretagne, et scavoient la force 
et la vertue de parolles, des pierres et des herbes, parquoy 
elles estoient tenue en jeunesse, et en beaulte et en grandes 
nchesses comment elles divisoient. Et ce fut estably au 
temps de Merlin le prophete”. The fays play a considerable 
part in the romances both of the Arthur and Charlemagne 
cycles. Morgan le Fay, for instance, is sister of Arthur, and 
lover of Ogier le Danois. Vivien or Nimue, the Lady of the 

connected the Latin names for wood*divinities, Fnunut, 
argued in Th^ Folk-lore Record, vol. ii.. that 
If rather of the than the Certainly iT/oryan 

.Italian Faia Morgana, the Will-o'-ihe wisp, or ignii 
* j ^ • wntere tned to derive Fairy from the Homeric the Persiar 
ren, and other impossible sources in every tongue. See Keightley^ p. 4. 



Lake, becomes a fay through the magic learnt from Merlin. 
Often the fays attend at the birth of children, and dower them 
with supernatural gifts of blessing or curse. And it is from 
this point that Perrault’s conception of the fairy takes its rise. 
Perrault borrowed the fays of romance, and introduced them, 
in the form of fairy godmothers, into innumerable stories with 
which they had originally nothing to do.* 

§5. Fairies and Elves. — Hut between the Lady of the 
Lake and Titania a great change has come over the concep- 
tion of fairydorn. This change is due to the identification or 
confusion of the fays of romance with the elves of popular 
belief. Every Aryan people has its tradition of a race of 
supernatural beings, of diminutive stature, who dwell in a 
realm of their own underground, and occasionally mingle in 
the affairs of men. These arc the d^uarfs^ trolls^ and alfs of 
Scandinavia; i\\c koboids Tim\ nixies oi (iermany ; the elves., 
pixies, and pisgiesoi England; the braivnics and sleagh maith 
or 'good people’ of Scotland ; the of Hrittany ; and 

the^r or and leprechauns oi Ireland. Compara- 

tive mytltology has shown that this belief extends, in one form 
or another, over and beyond Europe. To its origin, or origins, 
we may refer presently ; but the immediate point is that in 
time this supernatural race was identified with the enchan- 
tresses of the romances ; the name of fays or fairies was trans- 
ferred to the elf-folk, their shadowy dominion became known 
as fairy-land, and for the first time the ‘fairy king* and the 
‘fairy queen’ arc heard of. This process was most marked 
when English literature began to be really English, and ceased 
to be Anglo-Norman. It was natural, just then, that native 
superstitions should be taken up into the stories from which 
they had hitherto been shut out by barriers of speech. 

§6. Huon of Bordeaux. — Hut even in the romances them- 
selves, the altered conception of the fairies may be traced. 
In the beginning it seems to have been due, not to English, 
but to German influences. The dwarf Albrich (from rr/?, the 
English and rich, ‘king’) is an important figure in the 

Nibelungen Lied, the guardian of the Hoard of the Nibe- 
lungen, which was won by Siegfried. In the Heldenbuch, 
Elbcrich is a dwarf king, who assists the Emperor Ortnit to 
win his bride. A very similar part is played in the famous 
romance of Huon H Bordeaux by “ the dwarfe of the fayry, 
Kingc Oberon”. Oberon is the English form of the French 

* See Mr. A. I^ng^s Introduction to an Enelish version of Pcrrault’s Pcfular 
TaUs ( 1886 ). 



Auberon, which is probably only a translation of the German 
name Alberich, the termination -ich^ which does not exist in 
French, being replaced by -on. The connection of Oberon 
with the Huon legend has been traced back to the 13th 
century.^ He is mentioned, for instance, by Albericus 
Trium Fontium in his Chronicles (1340) Alberonem viritm 
mirabilem et fortunatum. In a chanson of the same century 
he is the son of Julius Caesar and Morgan le Fay.^ The 
later romance of Huon of Bordeaux was turned into English 
by Lord Berners about 1540. Here Oberon is described as “of 
height but of three foote, and crooked shouldered He was 
bewitched at birth by four fairies, and is king of ‘the fairie’ 
in the Eastern realm of Momur. When he dies, for he 
is mortal, he leaves his realms to Huon and Arthur. In 
Oberon we have the Teutonic ‘dwarf’ and the romantic ‘fay’ 
very completely blended together. 

§7. The Fairy Lore of Chaucer and Spenser. — Chaucer 
thoroughly identifies elves and fairies. In The Tale 0/ the 
Wyf of BathCy 1-25, he says — 

" In th' oldedayes of the king Arihour, 

Of which that Britons speken greet honour, 

Al was this land fulfild of fayerye ; 
jThe elf-queen with hir joly companye. 
iDaunced full ofte in many a grene mede; 

This was the olde opinion, as I rede. 

I speke of manye hundred yeres ago ; 

But now can no man see none elves mo. 

For now the grete charitee and prayeres 
Of limitours, and ©there holy freres. 

That serchen every lond and every strcem. 

As thikke as motes in the sonne-beem, 

Blessinge halles, chambres, kitchenes, boures, 

Citees. burghes, castels, hye toures. 

Thropes, bernes, shipnes. dayeryes, 

This maketh that there been no fayeryes* 

For ther as wont to walken was an elf, ' 

Ther walketh now the limitour himself 
In undermeles and in morweninges. 

And seyth his matins and his holy thinges. 

As he goth in his limitacioun ”, 

The same conception runs through The Faerie Queene. The 
knights of Fairy-land are frequently called Elfs and Elfins. 



E. T* S.)» p. xxix. 

tiwm dt Bordeaux [cd. Guessard, i860), 11 . 349^6— 

•‘Jules Cesar me nori bien soud ; 

Morge li f<e qut tant ot de biaul6. 

Che fu mire, si me puist Dix salver 
De CCS U fui concus ct engerris/* 



In some passages, Elf appears to be regarded by Spenser as 

the male, and Fay the female sex of the same species. Thus 

we have the following description of Arthegall in iii. 3. 26— 


“ He wonneth in the land of Fayeree. 

Yet is no Fary borne, ne sib at all 
To Elfes. but sprong of seed terrestriall, 

And whylonie by false Faries stolnc away, 

Whyles yet in infant cradle he did crall ; 

Ne other to himselfe is knowne this day, 

But that he by an Elfc was gotten of a Fay”. 

In ii. 10. 70-76, Spenser gives an imaginary lineage of the 
royal house of Faery, which reigned in India and America. 
He starts with the first Elf and the first Fay created by 
Prometheus, and ends with Oberon and his daughter Tanaquil 
or Gloriana, whom wc may, of course, take for Henry VIII. 
and Elizabeth. 

§8. Fairyland and Classical Mythology. — Not only were 
elves and fairies regarded as one and the same, but they 
were also, when men began to read the classics, identified 
with the somewhat similar beings. Nymph s, Fauns, Satyrs, 
and the like, of Greek mythology. Spenser, m The Shep- 
heards' Calender (June), groups the ‘friendly Faeries^ with 
the ‘Graces and lightfote Nymphes’. More especially, the 
king and queen of the fairies were identified with some of the 
greater pagan gods and goddesses. In the romance of Sir 
Orfeoy the fairies steal Erodys, Meroudys, or Heurodis, as 
the various MSS. have it, the wife of Orfeo, and he wins her 
back by harping. This is merely a variant of the descent of 
Orpheus into Hades to recover Eurydice. So, too, Chaucer 
speaks in The Marchanles Tale (983-985) of— 

" Pluto, that is the king of faytrye, 

And many a lady in his companye, 

Folwingc his wyf, the quene Proserpyne ”, 

while King Jaines the First iDcrmonolo^ie (1597), iii. 5) has— 
“That fourth kind of spirites, which by the Gentiles was called 
Dianay and her wandring court, and amongst us called the 
Phairie ”. 

§9. Shakespeare’s Literary Sources. — No doubt when 
Shakespeare came to write of the fairies, he was acquainted 
with the previous treatment of the subject by Chaucer and 
Spenser, and in the English versions which Malor>', Lord 
Berners, and others had made of such romances as Huon of 
Bordeaux, Had he any other literary sources to go to? 



Drayton’s Nymphidia and a black-letter tract called Robin 
Goodfellow^ his Mad Pranks and Merry Jesis^ have both been 
pointed to as possibly preceding A Midsummer- Night's 
Dream. But the Nymphidia was first printed in 1627, and 
there is no reason to believe that it was written long before. 
Probably it was inspired by, instead of inspiring, Shakespeare’s 
play. Similarly, the prose Robin Good/elloiv is only known in 
an edition of 1628, and the existence of an older issue is a 
flimsy conjecture. The tract itself bears internal evidence of 
being later in date than the play. Shakespeare is more likely 
to have come across some of the stray allusions quoted below 

(§ 18). 

§ 10. The Fairies on the Stage. — But he was not the first to 
introduce fairies on the stage. There are two allusions to an 
old play, now lost, on the King of the Fairies. Nash, in his 
preface to Greene’s Meitaphon (1589), says of the actors ol 
the day, that, but for the poets, “ they might have anticked 
it until this time up and down the country with the King of 
FairteSy and dined every day at the pease-porridge ordinary 
with Delphri^s" . And Greene himself, in his Groatswortk 
of Wit (1592), introduces an old actor, who boasts that he was 

as famous for Delphrigus and the King of the Fairies^ as 
ever was any of my time”. Possibly this old play was the 
wme as that played three times by Lord Sussex’s men at the 
Rose in December, 1592, and January, 1593, and entered 
^^J^slowe in his diary as Huon of Bordeaux. Aureola, 
wife of Auberon, and Queen of the Fairies, appeared in an 
entertainment given before Elizabeth at Elvetham in 1591 
and Oberon, King of the Fairies’, is a character in the 
Induction of Greene’s fames IV. (acted 1589). The name 
IS misprinted Oboram on Greene’s title-page. 

^ Fairies in Tradition. — But we cannot doubt that 

Shakespeare found less ample material for his fantasy, whether 
in book or stage, than in the living traditions of the Warwick- 
shire peasantry. The extent of the belief in the fairies which 
prevailed in England up to a comparatively recent date may 
^ well illustrated from the stories collected in Keightley’s 
Fairy Mytholofy. Probably it is not yet extinct in the re- 
moter regions of the west It is true that Scot, in the passages 



quoted below (§ 18), speaks of the old superstitions as having 
died out within his memory ; but his statement must have 
applied, if at all, only to the educated classes. Doubtless 
they were dying out. The fairies were supposed still to exist, 
but no longer to appear. Chaucer (§7) speaks of them, with a 
touch of irony, as driven away by the piety of the ‘limitours’; 
and Bishop Corbet (1582-1625), in his The Fairie^ Farewelly 
connects their disappearance with the Reformation. 

“At morning and at evening both 
You merry were and glad. 

So little care of sleep or sloth. 

These pretty ladies had; 

When Tom came home from labour, 

Or Ciss to milking rose. 

Then merrily merrily went their tabour. 

And nimbly went their toes. 

• * Witness those rings and roundelay 
Of theirs, which yet remain, 

Were footed in Qxteen Mary’s day; 

On many a grassy plain; 

But since of late Elizabeth, 

And later, James came in. 

They never danced on any heath 
As when the time hath bin. 

*' By which we note the Fairies 
Were of the old profession; 

Their songs were Ave Maries; 

Their dances were procession; 

But now. alas! they all are dead. 

Or gone beyond the seas; 

Or farther for religion fled. 

Or else they take their ease." 

§ 12. The Origin of the Belief in Fairies. — The origin of the 
belief in fairies is a difficult problem of folk-lore. Probably 
no single explanation will altogether account for it. It is a 
complex growth. But in the main it is clearly a relic of the 
pre-Christian religious ideas of our ancestors. These were 
much the same amongst Celts, Teutons, and the primitive 
Graeco-Latjn peoples. But they may be most closely studied 
in Celtic legend. The Celts believed in a shadowy land, 
either underground, or beneath the sea, or in some island of 
the west, which was the abode both of the spirits of the dead 
and of certain dark deities, hostile to men. There were many 
tales of culture-heroes, men who visited this realm, and 
wrested from the inhabitants the gifts of civilization.* When 

* See Professor Rhys* Celiic Heathtmiom and Mr, Alfred NuU*s 

Essay on the Celtic Otherwgrld in Meyer and Nutt*s Voyagt o/ Brafu 




Christianity came, this belief in a Hades, as we have seen 
was the case also with the Gaulish belief in Fatcp^ did not 
disappear; the Chthonian deities were no longer looked upon 
as gods, but they were still revered as supernatural beings of 
a lower type : they became, in fact, fairies. The fairies, like 
the old gods, are invisible, powerful, spiteful, and dwell under- 
ground; just as the beginnings of human civilization came 
from Hades, so the fairies superintend and assist in the 
domestic details of which primitive civilization consists 
(§§ 16-18). It need hardly be said that, a belief in the fairy- 
folk once existing, and the original significance lost, an easy 
explanation was afforded for anything which struck the 
uneducated intelligence as unusual. The stone arrow-heads 
of past ages became known as ‘elf-bolts’, the queer circles 
made by decaying/w;?^' on the turf, as fairy-rings; mysterious 
disappearances, the sudden illnesses of children, the odd 
sounds of a house at night, the phosphorescence of marshy 
places, the unpleasant sensations of nightmare, all were put 
down to the same convenient supernatural agency. Abnor- 
mal psychic phenonaena, such as afterwards fostered the belief 

’• ^^so, reminiscences of extinct pigmy 

races, did their part to swell the superstition.* ^ ^ ^ 

§ 13. Characteristics of Shakespeare’s Fairies.— We have 
see hm^murh'^ what Shakespeare says of the fairies, and to 
anti K ll tradition, popular or literary 

fusing imagination. 

8? '■ 1-^^’ specra?atte„dJnts 

(u. I. 3 ), and wear coats made of the wings of hat^ ri; ^ 
butterflies' wings are their fans (iii. i iltWnd CnhiV' 

danpr of being ‘overflown with^ honey?i’ag' rtv t 

Puck will go swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow’ (iii. 2! 

fairies from a raM*’of SrS Scotch 



loi), swifter than the wind (iii. 2. 94). He ‘will put a girdle 
round the earth in forty minutes* (ii. i. i 75 )» returns from 
his mission ‘ere the leviathan can swim a league* (ii. i. 174)* 
Another fairy wanders ‘swifter than the moones sphere’ (ii. 
1.7). Oberon and Titania themselves compass the globe 
‘swifter than the wandering moon’ (iv. i. 103). 

{d) They are elemental, airy spirits (iii. i. 164). Titania 

says (iii. i. 157) — 

•' I am a spirit of no common rate, 

The summer still doth tend upon my stale**. 

Their brawls incense the winds and moon, and cause tempests 
(ii. I. 82, sqq}). They take a share in the life of nature, live 
on fruit (iii. i. 169). deck the cowslips with dew-drops (li. i. 9), 
and war with noxious insects and reptiles (ii. 2. 3, 9, sqq,\ 
iv. 1. 10). They know the secret virtues of herbs (ii. i. 170, 
184), can fetch jewels from the deep (ii. 2. 161), shake the 
earth with a stamp (iii. 2. 25 ; iv. i. 90), and overcast the sky 

with fog (iii. 2. 355). v • 

{e) They dance in orbs upon the green (ii. i. 9)» ringlets 
(ii. I. 86), rounds (ii. 1. 140), roundels (ii. 2. l). In The Tem- 
pest (v. I. 36) they are spoken of as the 

" demi-puppets that 

By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, 

Whereof the ewe not biles ". 

(_/) They sing hymns and carols to the moon (ii. i. 102). 
In this they are associated with human beings. Titania had 
a mortal friend, a votaress of her own order (ii. i. 123); and 
Hermia is to become a nun, and chant ‘faint hymns to the 
cold fruitless moon* (i. i. 73). 

{g) They are invisible (ii. 1. 186), and, unlike the Oberon of 
Htion of Bordeaux (§6) apparently immortal (ii. i. loi, 123, 
135; iii. I. 163). 

iji) They come forth mainly at night (iv. i. 101; v. i. 393 )> 
but arc not, like ghosts, forced tc vanish at cock-crow. 
Oberon ‘with the mornings love hus oft made sport’ (iii. 2. 
389). But midnight is properly fairy-time (iv. i. 93; v. i. 
371). They arc shadows (v. i. 430); Puck addresses Oberon 
as ‘king of shadows’ (iii. 2. 347). Perhaps their whole exist- 
ence is but a dream (v. i. 435). 

(/) They fall in love with mortals (ii. i. 65-80; iii. 1. 140, 

&c.). . 

(j') They steal babies, and leave changelings (ii. i. 22, 120;. 



(k) They come to ‘bless the best bride-bed’, and so make 
the issue thereof fortunate (iv. i. 93; v. i. 399-429). 

Oberon, Titania, and Puck require more special considera- 

§ 14. Oberon. — The name of Oberon, as we have seen, is 
derived, through the French, from the German Albrich. 
Chaucer calls the king of fairies Pluto, but Oberon is the 
name used in Htton of Bordeaux^ by Spenser and by Robert 
Greene. In ii. i. 6 of The Faerie Queene we find it said of 
Sir Guyon, that he 

" Knighthood tooke of good Sir Huon's hand 
When with King Oberon he came to Faery land 

See also § 6. In the Entertainment at Elvethamy the name 
appears as Auberon. After Shakespeare, Drayton, Herrick, 
and others adopt Oberon, while in the prose Robin Goodfellow 
we get Obreon. 

In A Midsummer- NighVs Dreamy Oberon has certain 
powers above those of his subjects. He was able to see 
Cupid all armed’, when Puck could not (ii. i. 155). 

— There is far less unanimity as to the name 
of tl^ fairy queen. In Chaucer she is Proserpine; and so, 
loo, Campion sings of ‘ the fairy queen, Proserpina in one o\ 
his prettiest lyrics.^ In the Entertainment at Elvetham she 
IS Aureola; in Spenser, Tanaquil, who is also Gloriana. 
James the First identifies her with the pagan Diana (§ 8). 
00 does Scot (§ 18). And this really brings us to the 
meaning of Shakespeare’s name. For Titania is only a 
synonym of Diana. It is so found in Ovid, MetamorphoseSy 
Dumque ibi perluitur solita Titania lympha”. Here 
litania is an epithet, ‘Titan-born’. It is remarkable that 
h?i translates the word by ‘Phebe’; but there can be 
nttle doubt that Shakespeare knew his Ovid in the original. 

It is to be noticed that elsewhere he has quite another 
name for the fairy queen. In the famous description of her 
\n l<omeo and Juliet y i. 4. 53-95, she is Queen Mab; and 
nis is apparently one of the Irish names for a fairy, Mabh, 
tnough others derive it from the domina Abundidy a domestic 
spirit known to mediccval writers.* The account of Mab 
^ven in Romeo and Juliet has many points which resemble 
me characteristics of the domestic spirit as found in Robin 
Goodfellow (§ 16). Herrick adopts the name Mab, and so 




does Drayton, for the fairy queen, though in the eighth 
Nymphal of The Pluses' Rliziufn the Nymph who is to be 
wedded to a Fay is called 'Pita. 

§ i6. Puck. — Puck occupies a peculiar position in the fairy 
world. He is Oberon’s jester (ii. i. 43) and body-servant. 
He is known by diverse names, as Robin Goodfellow (ii. i. 
34) or Robin (v. i. 445), as Hobgoblin (ii. i. 40), as sweet 
Puck (ii. 1. 40). He calls himself a goblin (iii. 2. 399), and 
again the Puck (v. i. 442), and an honest Puck (v. 1. 438). A 
fairy calls him a ‘lob of spirits’ (ii. i. 16). He is essentially 
mischievous (ii. i. 32-57), he frigius the maidens of the 
villagery (ii. i. 35), he plays tricks on old women (ii. i. 47-57), 
and upsets the housewife’s domestic arrangements by stealing 
cream (ii. i. 36) and preventing the butter from coming (ii. i. 
37), and the beer from fermenting (ii. i. 38). He esteems the 
jangling of mortals a sport (iii. 2. 352); he can counterfeit 
noises (iii. i. 113; iii. 2. 360), and transforms himself to a 
horse (ii. 1. 45; iii. i. iii), a roasted crab-apple (ii. i. 48), a 
three-foot stool (ii. 1. 52), a hound, a hog, a bear, and a fire 
(iii. 1. 1 12). It is doubtless in this last guise that he misleads 
night-wanderers (ii. i. 39) as a Will-o’-the-wisp (cf. § 18). He 
also transforms Hottom into an ass. On the other hand, 
when he is pleased, he does work for mortals, such as 
sweeping the floor (v. i. 397), and perhaps grinding the corn 
(ii. I. 36, note), and brings them good luck (ii. 1. 41). 

§ 17. The Element of Tradition in the Fairies. — Many of 
the characteristics of Shakspeare’s fairies may be abundantly 
paralleled from English folk-lore, not to speak of that of other 
countries. The conception of Robin (joodfellow may be taken 
either directly from popular belief, or from popular belief as 
reported in Reginald 'SiCO'C% Discen^ety 0/ Witchcraft 
Robin Goodfellow is the tricksy domestic sprite, who was 
supposed to come into houses at night and perform domestic 
services, expecting some simple food to be left out for his 
reward. If clothes were laid for him, he resented it. If 
the house was untidy, he pinched the maidens; if neat and 
clean, he sometimes left money in their shoes. This love of 
order is characteristic of the fairies in general, and not only 
of Robin in particular (cf. e.f^. Merry li'nu's, v. i. 41, sgg.). 
Similar stories are told of the Brownies in Scotland, and 
the Kobolds in Germany. Robin was identified with Will- 
o’-the-wisp, the deceitful spirit, that lured travellers into 
marshes; and also with the Incubus, or nightmare. His 
functions in this last quality are shared by other fairies, such 



as the Queen Mab of Romeo and Juliet. A full account of the 
life and manners of Robin Goodfellow is to be found in the 
prose History of him already referred to, but as I believe 
this to have been largely founded on Shakespeare, and not 
his authority, I prefer to quote some illustrative extracts from 
earlier writers. 

§ i8. Early Testimonies to Robin Goodfellow and the 

(a) From Reginald Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft ( i 584) — 

" 1 should no more prevail herein [in gettingan impartial hearing] than 
if a hundred years since I should have entreated your predecessors to 
bdieve, that Robin Goodfellow, that great and ancient bull-beggar, had 

^n but a cozening merchant and no devil indeed But 

Robin Goodfellow ceaseth now to be much feared, and popery is suffi- 
ciently discovered” (ed. Nicholson, p. xx). 

He includes amongst the causes of the belief in witches — 

The want of Robin Goodfellow and the fairies, which were wont to 
maintain that, and the common people talk in this behalf” (p. xxii). 

Of the Fairies he says : — 

principally inhabit the mountains and caverns of the 
^tn, whose nature is to make strange apparitions on the earth, h* 
^aows or on mountains, being like men and women, soldiers, kings, 
®dies, children and horsemen, clothed in green, to which purpose 
y do in the night steal hempen stalks from the fields where they grow, 

story goes. . . . Such jocund 

spints are said to sport themselves in the night by tumbling 
w with servants and shepherds in country houses, pinching 
and blue, and leaving bread, butter, and cheese sometimes 

refuse to eat. some mischief shall undoubtedly 
all them by the means of these Fairies; and manv such have been 

spirits for a fortnight or a month together, being 
wrri^ wth thern m chariots through the air, over hills and dales, rocks 
precipices, till at last they have been found lying in some meadow 

senses and commonly one of their mem- 
bers to boot” (Bk. iii. ch. iv.j. 

Of the Incubus : — 

Uill y®^r grandam's maids were wont to set a bowl of milk before 

and his cousin, Robin Goodfellow, for grinding of malt or mustard. 

iiouse at midnight ; and you have also heard that he 
chafe excTOdingly, if the maid or goodwife of the house, having 
rvf j his nakedness, laid any clothes for him, besides his mess 

which was his standing fee. For in that case 
1 h. What have we here? Hemton hamten, here will I never more 
^ nor stampen. . . . [Robin was probably] a cozening idle 

fnar. or some such rogue” (Bk. iv. oh. X. p. ^). 

(M2S6J ' T 

i 62 


Of Robin Goodfellow: — 


Know you this by the way. that heretofore Robin Goodfellow and 
Hobgobblin were as terrible, and also as credible to the people, as hags 
and witches be now ; and in time to come a witch will be as much 
derided and contemned, and as plainly p>erceived, as the illusion and 
knavery of Robin Goodfellow. And in truth, they that maintain walk- 
ing spirits with their transformation, &c.. have no reason to deny Robin 
Goodfellow. upon whom there hath gone as many and as credible tales 
as upon witches: saving that it hath not pleased the translators of the 
Bible to call spirits by the name of Robin Goodfellow, as they have 
termed diviners, soothsayers, poisoners, and cozeners by the name of 
witches '■ (Hk. vii. ch. ii. p. 105). 

“But certainly some one knave in a white sheet hath cozened and 
abused many thousands that way; specially when Robin Goodfellow 
kept such a coil in the country . . . But in our childhood our 
mothers' maids have so . . . fraid us with bull-beggars, spirits, 
witches, urchins, elves, hags, fairies, satyrs, pans, fauns, sylens. Kit 
with the canstick, tritons, centatirs, dwarfs, giants, imps, calcars, con- 
jurors, nymphs, changelings, Incubus. Robin Goodfellow, the spoorn, 
the mare, the man in the oak, the hell wain, the fire-drake, the puckle, 
Tom Thumb, hobgoblin, Tom tumbler, boneless, and other such 
beings, that we are afraid of our own shadows” (Book vii. ch. xv. 
p. 122). 

“ So as St. Loy is out of credit for a. horscleach. Master T. and 
mother Bunzy remain in estimation for prophets; nay. Hobgoblin and 
Robin Goodfellow are contemned among young children, and mother 
Alice and mother Bunzy are feared among old fools” (Bk. viii. ch. i. 
p. 126). 

“The Rabbins and, namely. Rabbi Abraham, writing upon the 
second of Genesis, do say that God made the fairies, bugs. Incubus, 
Robin Goodfellow, and other familiar or domestic spirits and devils on 
the Friday: and being prevented with the evening of the Sabbath, 
finished them not, but left them unperfecl ; and that therefore, that ever 
since they use to fly the holiness of the Sabbath, seeking dark holes in 
mountains and woods, wherein they hide themselves till the end of the 
Sabbath, and then come abroad to trouble and molest men " {Discourse 
upon Devils and Spirits, ch. xi. p. 425). 

•' V'irunculi terrei arc such as was Robin Goodfellow, that would 
supply the office of servants — sj>ccially of maids; as to make a fire in 
the morning, sweep the house, grind mtistard and malt, draw water, 
&c. ; these also rumble in houses, draw latches, go up and down stairs. 
&c. . . . There go as many talcs upon this Hudgin in some parts of 
Germany, as there did in England of Robin Goodfellow” {Discourse, 
ch. xxi. p. 436). 

Scot’s book was primarily written as an attack on the 
belief in witchcraft. Incidentally it affords much information 
as to all the superstitions of the day. Two other points in it 
serve to illustrate a Midsummer-NighVs Dream. 

(i) He mentions the belief in the power of witches to 
transform men into asses, &c. (Bk. i. ch, iv. p. 8), and dis- 
cusses at length a story of such a transformation told in 


Bodin's Liber de DaemoniiSy gind in Sprenger’s Malleus 
MaleficarutUy and referred to by St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, 
Lib. i8. He also refers to the similar fable in the Golden 
Ass of Apuleius (Bk. v. ch. i.-vii. p, 75). Apuleius’ ass re- 
covered his human form by eating rose leaves. Scot tells 
another story of an appearance of Pope Benedict IX., a 
century after his death, with an ass’s head on {Discourse, 
ch. xxvii. p. 447), and prints a charm to put a horse’s or 
ass’s head on a man (Bk. xiii. ch. xix. p. 257). 

(2) He speaks of the fairies as the supposed companions 
of the witches in their nocturnal flights, and especially “the 
lady of the fairies”, called “Sibylla, Minerva, or Diana” 
(Bk. iii. ch. ii. p. 32). Elsewhere he quotes the statement of 
a council that witches “ride abroad with Diana, the goddess 
of the Pagans, or else with Herodias, . . . and do whatsoever 
these fairies or ladies command” (Bk iii. ch. xvi. p. 51). He 
gives also several charms or conjurations for obtaining the 
^rvices of ‘the fairy Sibylia’. .According to Huon of Bor- 
deaux (ch. cxlvii.) Sibylla held a realm in fairy-land under 
King Oberon. 

There can be little doubt that Shakespeare knew the Dis- 
covery of Witchcraft. See my edition of Macbeth in this 
senes. Appendix D. 

(^) ^'comTarlton's News out of Purgatory. . . . Published 
p Goodfellow (1590). [ed. Shakespeare Society, 

of those Familiares Lares that were rather 
Jsposed than endued with any hurtful influence, as Hob 
Robin Goodfellow, and such like spirits, as they term them, of 

o''®*’y old wive's chronicle for their mad. merry 
friirW ♦k- , sith my appearance to thee is in resemblance of a 

^ pleasant a goblin as the rest, and wll make 

. merry before I part, as ever Robin Goodfellow made the country 

wenches at their creambowls.” 

(^■) From Churchyard’s A Handfull of Gladsome Verses 
^ven to the Queen's Majesty at Woodstock this 
(> 592 -) 

Strange farleis fathers told, 

Of fiends and hags of hell ; 

And how that Circe, when she would, 

Could skill of sorcery well. 

And how old thin-faced wives, 

That roasted crabs by night, 

Did tell of monsters in their lives. 

That now prove shadows light. 



Of old Hobgobling's guise. 

That walked like ghost in sheets, 

With maids that would not early rise, 

I-'or fear of bugs and spreets. 

Some say the fairies fair 

Did dance on Bednall Green ; 

And fine familiars of the air 
Did talk with men unseen. 

And oft in moonshine nights. 

When each thing draws to rest. 

Was seen dumb shows and ugly sights, 

That feared every guest 

Which lodged in the house ; 

And where good cheer was great, 

Hodgcpoke would come and drink carouse 
And munch up all the meat. 

But where foul sluts did dwell, 

Who used to sit up late. 

And would not scour their pewter well, 

There came a merry mate 

To kitchen or to hall. 

Or place where spreets resort; 

Then down went dish and platters all. 

To make the greater sport. 

A further sport fell out. 

When they to spoil did fall; 

Rude Robin Goodfellow, the lout. 

Would skim the milk-bowls all. 

And search the cream-pots too, 

For which poor milk-maid weeps, 

. God wot what such mad guests will do. 

When people soundly sleeps. 

I do not know whether this bit from poor old Churchyard 
has been hitherto used to illustrate the play. 

{d) From Nash's Terrors of the Night. (1594. Nash’s 
Works. Ed. Grosart, iii. 223.) 

"The Robin-good-fellows, Elfs, Fairies, Hobgoblins of our latter ng^ 
which idolatrous former days and the fantastical world of Greece ycleped 
Fauns, Satyrs, Dryads, and Hamadryads, did most of their merry pranks 
in the night. Then ground they malt, and had hempen shirts for their 
labours, danced in rounds in green meadows, pinched maids in their 
sleep that swept not their houses clean, and led p>oor travellers out of 
their way notoriously." 



Other allusions to Robin Goodfellow may be found in 
Munda/s Two Italian Gentlemen^ in Skialetkeia, in TheCobler 
of Canterbury y in Harsnet’s Declaration of Popish Impostures^ 
and in Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. I have thought it 
necessary to quote only such as are of earlier date than A 
Midsutnmer-Nighls Dream. 

§ 19. The Various Names of Puck. — The passages quoted 
above from Reginald Scot show that Robin Good-fellow and 
Hobgoblin were popular names for much the same being. 
Tarlton adds Hob-thrust^ and Churchyard Hodgefoke. ‘Hob’ 
and Hodge are indeed only shortened forms of ‘ Robin’, and 
‘goblin ’(see Glossary) simply means a ‘spirit’ or ‘demon’. 
Pucky the polke of ‘ Hodgepolke ’, is also a generic term for a 
‘demon’ or ‘devil’, and it is to be noted that in the text of 
the play Robin calls himself ^ an honest Puck’, ^ the Puck’. 
And this is consistent with the use #f earlier writers. Thus 
we have in Piers Plowman^ B. xvi. 264-266 — 

"Out of the pouke's pondfolde' no meynprise may vs feeche, 

Tyl he come that I carpe of" Crysi is his name, 

That shal delyure vs some daye' out of the deueles powere". 

And in Golding’s version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses^ ix. 646 — 

IT . ".The country where Chimaera, that same pouke 
Hath goatish body, lion's head and breast, and dragon’s tail". 

And in Spenser’s Epithalamion^ 340 — 

"Ne let the Pouke, nor other evill sprights, 

Ne let mischievous \vitches with theyr charmes, 

Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not. 

Fray us with things that be not 

The name has wide affinities. It appears as Pug and Bug. 

• if „ S*nald Scot’s PuckUy the Devonshire Pixy, the Cor- 
j V Icelandic Puki\ Ben Jonson’s Puck-hairy^ 

and the Pickle-haring of German farce. A strayed traveller 
'^^f^xy-ledyn Devonshire and Poake-ledden in Worcestershire. 
^ n be increased indefinitely. 

, , called a ^ lob of spirits^. Lob is the Celtic lloby ‘a 

dolt’ and the phrase may be explained by the rougher aspect 
r 1 ^ among his fellows. He is a “fawn-faced, shock-pated 
httle fellow, a very Shetlander among the gossamer-winged, 
dainty-limbed shapes around him”. Milton in V Allegro 
speaks of ‘ the drudging goblin ’, or ‘ lubber-fiend ’, that 

"stretch'd out all the chimney’s length, 

Basks at the fire his hairy strength 



And the cognate name of Lob lie by the Fire is familiar from 
Mrs. Ewing’s charming story of a domestic Brownie. The 
phrase ‘Lob’s pound’, perhaps the ‘ Lipsbury pinfold’ of 
Lear^ ii. 2. 9, signifies a ‘scrape’ or ‘difficulty’; and is 
doubtless in origin the same as ‘the pouke’s pondfolde’. It 
was believed that he who set foot in a fairy-ring would never 
come out, another proof that the fairies were originally the 
dwellers in Hades. 

Puck is called sweet Puck to propitiate him, and doubtless 
Good Fellow has a similar intention. So Kirk tells us of the 
Irish that “these Siths, or Fairies, they call Sleagh Mailh, or 
the Good People, it would seem to prevent the dint of their 
evil attempts (for the Irish use to bless all they fear harm 
oQ”. And in the same spirit of euphemism the Greeks called 
the Erinnyes, the dread ministers of divine vengeance, by the 
title of Eumenides or ‘ gracious onr ' ’ 

§20. The Evidence of Folk-lore. — I have dealt at some 
length with Robin Goodfcllow, because he is perhaps the 
most prominent and characteristic figure in the play. But 
many other points in the fairy-lore may be equally well 
illustrated from popular tradition, as we find it for instance 
in the collection of stories given in Keightley’s Fairy Mytho- 
logy. The invisibility of the fairies, their supernatural powers 
and night-tripping propensities, their monarchical govern- 
ment, the fairy ointment and the fairy-rings; all these are 
well-recognized features in their natural histo^'. Their habit 
of stealing children and leaving changelings is the subject of 
a delightful chapter in Mr. Hartland’s Science of Faiyy Tales, 
From romance, on the other hand, we may consider that 
Shakespeare derived, with the name Oberon, the conception 
of a fairy dominion in the East, and the belief in love-relations 
between fairies and mortals. \Ve have now' to see finally how 
he modified these transmitted ideas by the workings of his 
own genius. 

§21. The Size of Shakespeare’s Fairies. — The fairies, as 
has been said, generally appear in the romances as of human 
stature. In the popular stories they are usually dwarfs or 
pigmies, about the size of small children. This is not an 
invariable rule. There is Tom Thumb, for example; Thoms 
cites a Danish troll ‘ no bigger than an ant ’ ; and a thirteenth- 
century writer, Gervase of Tilbury, describes the English 
Fortunes as being in height dimidium pollicis. But Shake- 
speare has carried this idea further than any of his prede- 
cessors. His fairies, in A Midsummer-NighTs Dream and in 



Romeo and Juliety though perhaps not in The Merry Wives 
of Windsor^ where children are dressed up to imitate fairies, 
are at least spoken of as infinitesimally small. I think the 
object of this is to make them elemental, to bring them into 
harmony with flower and insect, and all the dainty and 
delicate things of nature. They are in a less degree, what 
the spirits of The Tempest are entirely, embodiments of 
natural forces. It is to be observed, however, that this 
illusion of infinitesimal smallness could not be visibly pro- 
duced on the stage. If Cobweb and Peaseblossom and Moth 
and Mustardseed were dressed to suit their names, this must 
have been done on a magnified scale, such as is used in 
staging the Birds of Aristophanes, or in the * fancy dress ^ of 
a modern ball. And yet critics say that Shakespeare always 
wrote for the spectator, and never for the reader of his plays. 

§22. The Classical dement in Shakespeare’s Fairies. — 
Shakespeare is not afraid of anachronisms, but it is not true 
that he has no regard to the place and time in which his plays 
are cast. In King Lear he is careful to suggest the atmo- 
sphere of a boisterous pagan age : the Italian plays are 
flushed with southern sunshine: Hamlet is not without its 
touches of Danish local colouring. So, too, in A Midsummer- 
Nighfs Dream Shakespeare does not altogether forget the 
Athens of Theseus. He deftly brings his fairies into sympathy 
with Greek myth. Titania, as we have seen (§ 15), is but a 
synonym for Diana-Artemis, the chaste maiden-deity who 
roves the forests. I do not know whether Shakespeare had 
m mind the essential identity of Artemis, Phoebe, and Hecate; 
but it is noteworthy that Titania heads the band of the moon’s 
votaresses (§ 14 (/) ), while the fairies, spirits of night, are 
said by Puck (v. i. 370-372) to run 

"By the triple Hecate’s team, 

From the presence of the sun, 

Following darkness like a dream ”. 

Again, he has woven the closing scene into the semblance 
of an Epithalamion. The fays of romance and of Perrault 
make their appearance at birth or at christening. Shake- 
speare brings his fairies to ‘ bless the best bride-bed’, fulfilling 

functions assigned in Greece to Hymen, 
train. The greatest minds have their 
touches of mysticism, and take delight in these curious recon- 
ciliations of things set asunder. 





The admirable Introduction contributed by the Rev. J. W. 
Ebsworth to Griggs’ facsimile of Q 2 has, I think, made it quite 
clear that the relations of the texts of the two Quartos to each other 
and to that of the Folio are such as I have stated them to be in the 
Introduction. I have carefully examined the question for myself, 
and agree with his conclusions on almost every point. The main 
facts may be briefly set out. 

(1) Q 1 is much superior in accuracy to many of the Shakespearian 
quartos. Just about 1600, the policy of the Chamberlain’s company 
seems to have been to checkmate the piratical booksellers by putting 
their plays into the hands of some trustworthy man, and in this way 
Fisher was doubtless furnished with a reliable copy of the original 

(2) Q 2 is printed from Q i. It agrees with it page by page, 
although it is set up with greater attention to typographical details, 
and in a simpler and much less archaic spelling. The proof of the 
priority of Q i rests partly on this spelling. Thus, as Mr. Ebsworth 
points out, Roberts’ * tooke to it' is clearly a correction of Fisher’s 
' looke toote', and not vice-versa. On the other hand, the fact that, 
on the whole, Fisher’s Quarto pves the best readings, is also in 
favour of its being the earlier version. And where the typographical 
correspondence of the two editions gets out, the spacing of Q 2 is 
always arranged so as to recover it as soon as possible. The printer 
is evidently working from a model. 

(3) Nor can there be any doubt that F i is printed from Q 2. 

For wherever the Quartos differ, F I always agrees with Q 2 and not 
with Q I, even when the latter is manifestly right. Many of the 
plays in I* I appear to have been printed from copies in the theatre 
library. Sometimes these were manuscripts, sometimes printed edi- 
tions. Some, such as Macbeth and I^at’y had been cut down for the 
purposes of representation; in some, and of these our play is an 
instance, the stage-directions had been carefully revised and com- 
pleted. ^ 

I now come to the one point in which I differ from Mr. EUworth. 
rie holds that Roberts’ Quarto was “an unauthorized, and presum- 
ably a spurious or pirated edition”. And here he has the supjx)rt of 
the Cambridge editors, who say, “The printer’s errors in Fisher’s 
edition are corrected in that issued by Roberts, and from this cir- 
cumstance, coupled with the facts that in the Roberts Quarto the 
Exits are more frequently marked, and that it was not entered at 
Stationers Hall, a.® Fisher’s edition was, we infer that the Rol>erts 
Quarto ^was a pira'id reprint of Fisher’s, probably for the use of the 
players . Now, I do not know whether Mr. Aldis Wright seriously 
supp>oses that every new edition of an Elizabethan book was entered 



on the Stationers’ Registers. As a matter of fact these only contain 
entries to secure copyright on first publication, and, occasionally, 
transfers of copyright. Nor do I quite understand why the players 
should want an edition all to themselves. In any case, I very much 
doubt whether there was anything piratical about Roberts’ reprint. 
A glance at the title-pages of the two editions will show that Q i was 
printed “forThomas Fisher” and Q 2 “ by James Roberts”. I would 
suggest that possibly both Quartos were printed “ by James Roberts 
for Thomas Fisher”. It is difficult to prove this. The types and 
ornaments of the later Elizabethan printers are far from distinctive, 
and they appear to have been freely lent and borrowed. The device 
on the title-page of Q l is certainly Fisher’s own, and I cannot iden- 
tify the ornament at top of that page, nor the tail-piece on sheet 
H 4 verso, as belonging to Roberts. They are not reproduced in 
Q 2. But the ornament at the top of sheet A 2 rec/o is of the same 
pattern in both Qq, though it is set up wrong in Q 2. It consists of 
a small conventional design about half an inch square several times 
repeated. Now, ornaments of this pattern, though other printers 
may have also used them, at any rate appear in almost all the books 
printed by Roberts about the year i6to. Therefore it seems to 
me extremely likely that he printed Q i as well as Q 2. If so, it is 
hardly probable that Q 2 was a piracy. The Stationers’ Registers 
do show that Roberts occasionally pirated another man’s book. 
But would he be likely thus to treat a publisher with whom he was 
in business relations, and would he have any chance of doing so with 
impunity if the book was so new as A Midsummer-Nights Dream ? 
Elizabethan booksellers looked pretty sharply after their copyrights. 
If Q 2 was not, like Q I, printed “forThomas Fisher”, then Fisher 
may have sold the copyright to Roberts, after publishing one edition, 
just as in the same year Roberts himself published one edition of 
The Merchant of Venice, and then sold the copyright to Thomas 



The following contemporary records will illustrate the weather of 
this year, probably described by Titania in ii. i. 86-120. 

(l) From Stowe’s Annals (ed. 1631, pp. 766-769) 

In this moneth of March great stormes of winde ouertumed 
frees, steeples, barns, houses, &c., namely in Worcestershire, in 

ceaudly forrest many Oakes were ouertumed The 

II of April, a raine continued very sore more than 24 houres lone 
and withall, such a winde from the north, as pearced the wals of 

^o Strong This yeere in the 

month of May, fell many great showers of raine, but in the moneths 



of lune and luly, much more : for it commonly rained euerie day or 
night, till S. lames day, and two daics after togithermost extreamly; 
all which notwithstanding, in the moneth of August, there followed a 
faire haruest, but in the moneth of September fell great raines, which 
raised high waters, such as staied the carriages, and bare downe 
bridges, at Cambridge, Ware, and elsewhere, in many places. Also 
the price of grain grewe to be such, as a strike or bushell of Rie was 
sold for fiue shillings, a bushell of wheat for sixe, scuen, or eight 
shillings, &c., for still it rose in price, which dearth happened (after 
the common opinion) more by meanes of ouermuch transporting, by 
our owne merchants for their private gainc, than through the vnsea- 
sonableness of the weather passed.” 

(2) hrom Dr. John King^ Lectures upon Jonas (1595), Lecture ii. 
These lectures were delivered at York in 1594 — 

“ The moneths of the year hauc not yet gone about, wherin the 
Lord hath bowed the heauens, and come down amongst us with 
more tokens and earnests of his wrath intended, then the agedst man 
of our land is able to recount of so small a time. For say, if euer 
the windes, since they blew one against the other, haue been more 
common, and more tempestuous, as if the foure endes of heauen had 
conspired to turne the foundations of the earth vj>side downe; thun- 
ders and lightnings neither seasonable for the tin>e, and withal most 
terrible, with such effects brought forth, that the childe vnlwrne shall 
speake of it. The anger of the clouds hath been powred downe v|X)n 
our heads, both with abundance and (sauing to those that felt it) with 
incredible violence; the aire threatned our miseries with a blazing 
starre ; the pillars of the earth tottered in many whole countries ana 
tracts of our Ilandc; the arrowes of a woefull pestilence haue beene 
cast abroad at large in all the quarters of our realme, euen to the 
emptying and dispeopling of some parts thereof; treasons against our 
Queene and countrey wee have knownc nmny and mighty, monstrous 
to bee imagined, from a number of Lyons whelps, lurking in their 
dennes and watching their houre, to vndoc vs; our expectation and 
comfort so fayled vs in France, as if our right armes had beene 
pulled from our shoulders.” 

(3) Fronj a note of Simon Forman’s in Ashm. MS. 384, quoted 
by Ilalliwell in his Afemoranda on Alidsutnmer'd^i^ht^s Dreatn^ 
p. 16 — 

“ Ther was moch sicknes but lyttle death, moch fruit and many 
plombs of all sorts this yeare and small nuts, but fewe walnuts. This 
moncthes of June and July were very wet and wondcrfull cold like 
winter, that the lo. dac of Julii many did syt by the fyer, yt was so 
cold; and soe was yt in Maye and June; and scarce too fair dais 
together all that tyme, but yt rayned every day more or lesse. Yf 
yt did not raine, then was yt cold and cloudye. Mani murders were 
done this quarter. There were many gret fludes this sommer, and 
about Michelmas, thorowe the abundaunce of raine that fell 
^deinly ; the brige of Ware was broken downe, and at Stratford 
Bowe, the water was never seen so byg as yt was; and in the latlere 



end of October, the waters burste downe the bridg at Cambridge. In 
Barkshire were many gret waters, wherewith was moch harm done 

(4) From Thomas Churchyard’s Chanty ( 1595 )— 

“ A colder time in world was never scene : 

The skies do lowre, the sun and moon wax dim ; 

Sommer scarce knowne, but that the leaves are greene. 

The winter's waste drives water ore the brim 
Upon the land: great flotes of wood rnay swim. 

Nature thinks scorne to do hir dutie right, 

Because we have displeasde the Lord of Light.” 

Both Knight and the Clarendon Press editors point out that these 
passages are not strictly in accordance with Titania’s description, 
because Stowe speaks of “ a faire harvest” in August, while Titania 

^^the green com 

Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard 

But surely one need not expect from Shakespeare the accuracy of 
a statistical return. These editors have not, however, drawn any 
argument as to the date of the play from the fact that Churchyard 
says in his preface, ‘ ‘ A great nobleman told me this last wet summer, 
the weather was too cold for poets 



The following extracts from Sir Thomas North’s translation (1579) 
of Plutarch’s Life of Theseus serve to illustrate several passages of 
the play. The references are to the pages of vol. i. of Mr. G. H. 
Wyndham’s edition of North’s Plutarch in the “Tudor Translations”. 

P. 31. “Aegeus, desiring (as they say) to know how he might 
have children, went unto the city of Delphes to the oracle of Apollo: 
where by Apollo’s nun that notable prophecy was given him for an 
answer.”... {Midsummer-Night* s Dream^K. i. 70.) 

P. 35. “ The wonderful admiration which Theseus had of Her- 
cules’ courage, made him in the night that he never dreamed but 
of his noble acts and doings, and in the daytime, pricked forwards 
with emulation and envy of his glory, he determined with himself 
one day to do the like, and the rather, because they were near 
kinsmen, being cousins removed by the mother’s side.”... {Mid- 
summer-NighVs Dream^ v. i. 47.) 

P. 36. “And so going on further, in the straits of Peloponnesus he 
killed another, called Sinnis sumamed Pityocamtes, that is to say, a 
wreather, or bower of pine-apple trees: whom he put to death in that 
self cruel manner that Sinnis had slain many travellers before. 



...This Sinnis had a goodly fair daughter called Perigouna, which 
fled away, when she saw her father slain : whom he followed and 
sought all about. But she had hidden herself in a grove full of 

^ pricking rushes called stoebe, and wild sparage, 
which she simply like a child intreated to hide her, as if they had 
heard and had sense to understand her : promising them with an 
oath that if they saved her from being found, she would never 
cut them down, nor burn them. But Theseus finding her, called her 
and sware by his faith he would use her gently, and do her no hurt* 
nor displeasure at ajj. Upon which promise she came out of the 
bush, and lay with him, by whom she was conceived of a goodly 
Jwy. which w^s called Menalippus. Afterwards I'heseus married 
her unto one Deioneus, the son of Euritus the Oechalian,”... (A/,W. 
sttmmer-Atghl' s Dream ^ ii. i. 77.) 

P. 39- “The rather to give Aegeus occasion and mean to know 
him: when they brought the meat to the board, he drew out his 
sword, as though he would have cut with all, and shewed it unto 
him. Aegeus seeing it, knew it straight,.. .and after he had inquired 
of him, and asked things, he embraced him as his son.”.. (Hence 

Egeus, who, however, is not the father of Theseus in 
A Mtdsummer-Night s Dream.) 

.V, after he was arrived in Greta, he slew 

Jhere the Minotaur (as the most part of ancient authors do write) by 
rile means and help of Ariadne: who being fallen in fancy with him, 
did gwe him a clue of thread, by the help whereof she taught him 
how he might easily wind out of the turnings and cranks of the 
Labyrinth. And they say, that having killed this Minotaur, he 
returned bark a^ain the same way he went, bringing with him those 
other young children of Athens, whom with Ariadne also he carried 
afterwards away... They report many other things also touching this 
matter, and specially of Ariadne: but there is no troth nor certainty 
in It. I‘or some say, that Ariadne hung herself for sorrow, when 
she saw that Theseus had cast her oflF. Others write, that she was 
translated by mariners into the Isle of Naxos, where she was married 
unto (Knarus, the priest of Bacchus: and they think that Theseus left 
her, because he was in love with another, as by these verses should 

^eles, the Nymph, was loved of Theseus, 

Which was the daughter of Panopeus. . . 

Other hold opinion, that Ariadne had two children by Theseus.”... 
{Midsummer-Ntghrs Dream, \\. 1.80.) 

Ep. 55-57. “ Touching the voyage he made by the sea Major^ 
I hilochorus, and some other hold opinion, that he went thither with 
Jlercu es against the Amazons: and that to honour his valiantness, 
Hercules gave him Antiopa the Amazon. But the more mrt of the 
o her Historiographers, namely. Ilellanicus, Pherecides. and Herod- 
otus, do write, that Theseus went thither alone, after Hercules’ vorage, 
and that he took this Amazon prisoner, which is likeliest to be true. 



For we do not find that any other who went this journey with him, 
had taken any Amazon prisoner beside himself. Bion also the 
Historiographer, this notwithstanding saith, that he brought her away 
by deceit and stealth. For the Amazons (saith he) naturally loving 
men, did not fly at all when they saw them land in their country, 
but sent them presents, and that Theseus enticed her to come into 
his ship, who brought him a present: and so soon as she was aboard, 
he hoised his sail, and so carried her away — But Clidenius the 
Historiographer... saith that. ..the Athenians. ..were . .repulsed by the 
Amazons.... Afterwards, at the end of four months, peace was taken 
between them by means of one of the women called Hippolyta. For 
this historiographer calleth the Amazon which Theseus married, 
Hippolyta, and not Antiopa.”... {AIidsummer~Night's Dream, 
i. I. l6: ii. I. 8o.) 

P. 59. “Albeit in his time other princes of Greece had done many 
goodly and notable exploits in the wars, yet Herodotus is of opinion, 
that Theseus was never in any one of them : saving that he was at 
the battle of the Lapithae against the Centauri.”... {Miditimmer- 
NighVs Dream, v. i. 44,) 

P. 59. ‘ ‘ Also he did help Adrastus King of the Argives, to recover 
the bodies of those that were slain in the battle, before the city of 
Thebes. Howbeit it was not, as the poet Euripides saith, by force 
of arms, after he had overcome the Thebans in battle; but it was by 
composition.”... {Midsummer-Night^ s Dream, v. i. 51.) 

Pp. 60, 61. “ Pirithous married Deidamia, and sent to pray 
Theseus to come to his marriage, to visit his country, and to make 
merry with the Lapithae. He had bidden also the Centauri to the 
feast,: who being drunk, committed many lewd parts, even to the 
forcing of women. Howbeit the Lapithae chastised them so well, 
that they slew some of them presently in the place, and drove the 
rest afterwards out of all the country by the help of Theseus, who 
armed himself, and fought on their side. Yet Herodotus writeth 
the matter somewhat contrary, saying that Theseus went not at all 
until the war was well begun : and that it was the first time that he 
saw Hercules, and spake with him near the city of Trachina, when 
he was then quiet, having ended all his far voyages, and greatest 
troubles. They report that this meeting together was full of great 
cheer, much kindness, and honourable entertainment between them, 
and how great courtesy was offered to each other.”... {Midsummer- 
Night's Dream, v. i. 44.) 





It is worth while to reprint the two versions of this legend which 
Shakespeare may have had directly before him. 

(i) From Arthur Golding’s translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses 
(ed. 1587), iv. 55-166. 

'Diis talc (because it was not stale nor common) seemed good 
To her to tell: and thereupon she in this wise begun, 

Her busy hand still drawing out the flaxen thread she spun: — 

Within the town {of whose huge walls so monstrous high and thick, 

The fame is given Semiramis for making them of brick) 

Dwelt hard together two young folk, in hotiscs joined so near. 

That under all one roof well nigh both twain conveyed were. 

The name of him was Pvramus, and 'I'hisbe call'd was she, 

So fair a man in all the Last was none alive as he. 

Nor ne'er a woman, maid, nor wife in bcatity like to her. 

This ncigh)K)urhood bred acuuaintancc first, this neighbourhood first did stir 
The secret sparks: this neighbourhood first an entrance in did show 
For love, to comc to that to which il afterward did grow 
And if that right had taken place they had been man and wife, 

But still their parents went about to let which (for their life) 

They could not let. For both their hearts with eipial flame did bum, 

No man privy to their thoughts. And for to '^erve their turn, 

Instead of talk they ustfd signs: the closelicr they suppressed 
The fire of love, the fiercer still it ragtfd in their breast. 

The wall that parted house from house had riven therein a cranny, 

Which shrunk at making of the wall : this fault not marked of any 

Of many hundred years before (what doth not love cspyTi 

l^hcse lovers first of all found out, and made a way wncreby 

I'o talk together secretly, and through the same did go 

'I hcir loving whisperings very light and safely to and fro 

Now as at one side Pyramus, and Thisbc on the other 

Stood often drawing one of them the pleasant breath from other: 

O spiteful wall (said they) why dost ihou part us lovers thus: 

What matter were it if that thou perinittcd both of us 
In arms each other to embrace: or if thou think that this 
Were over-much, yet niightc^t thou at least make room to kiss. 

And yet thou shalt not find us churls: we think ourselves in debt 
For the same piece of courtesy, in vouching safe to let 
Our sayings to our friendly cars thus freely come and go. 

I'hiis having where they .stood in vain complained of their woe. 

When night drew near they bade adieu, and each gave kisses sweet 
Unto the parget on their side the which did never meet. 

Next morning with her cliecrful light had driven the stars aside. 

And Phoebus with his burning beams the dewy grass had dried, 

These lovers at their wonted place by fore appointment met. 

Where after much complaint and moan they covenanted to get 
Aw.ay from such as watched them, and in the evening late 
To steal out of their fathers' house and ckc the city gate. 

And to ih* intent in the fields they strayed not up and down, 

'i'hcy did agree at Ninus' tomb to meet without the town. 

And tarry underneath a tree that by the same did grow: 

Which was a fair high mulberry with fruit as white as snow, 

Hard by a cool and trickling spring. This bargain pleased them both. 
And .so daylight (which to their thought a>vay but slowly goeth) 

Did in the Ocean f,ill to rest, and night from thence doth rise. 

As soon as darkencss once was come, straight Thisbe did devise 



A shift to wind her out of doors, that none that were within 
Perceived her: and muffling her with clothes about her chin. 

That no man might discern her face, to Ninus* tomb she came 
Unto the tree: and set her down there underneath the same. 

Love made her bold. But see the chance, there comes besmeared with blood 
About the chaps, a Lioness all foaming from the wood, 

From slaughter lately made of kine to staunch her bloody thirst 
With water of the foresaid spring. Whom 'I’hisbe, spying first 
Afar by moonlight, thereupon wuh fearful steps gan fly 
And in a dark and irksome cave did hide herself thereby. 

And as she fled away for haste she let her mantle fall. 

The which for fear sne left behind not looking back at all. 

Now when the cruel lioness her thirst had staunched well, 

In going to the wood she found the slender weed that fell 
From Thisbe, which with bloody teeth in pieces she did tear. 

The night was somewhat further spent ere Pyramus came there. 

Who seeing in the subtle sand the print of lion's paw, 

Waxed pale for fear. But when chat he the bloody mantle saw 
All rent and torn : one night (he said) shall lovers two confound, 

Of which long life deserved she of all that live on ground. 

My soul deserves of this mischance the peril for to bear. 

I wretch have been the death of thee, which to this place of fear 
Did cause thee in the night to come, and came not here before. 

My wicked limbs and wretched guts with cruel teeth therefore 
Devour ye, O ye lions all that in this rock do dwell. 

But cowards use to wish for death. The slender weed that fell 
From ThLsbe up he takes, and straight doth bear it to the tree. 

Which was appointed erst the place of meeting for to be. 

And when he had bewept and kissed the garment which he knew, 

Receive thou my blood too (quoth he), and therewithal! he drew 
His sword, the which among his guts he thrust, and by and by 
Did draw it from the bleeding wound, beginning for to die, 

And cast himself upon his back, the blood did spin on high 
As when a conduit pipe is cracked, the water bursting out 
Doth shoot itself a great way off, and pierce the air about. 

The leaves that were upon the tree besprinkled with his blood 
Were dyed black. The root also, bestained as it stood 
A deep dark purple colour, straight upon the berries cast. ^ 

Anon scarce ridded of her fear with which she was aghast, r 
For doubt of disappointing him comes Thisbe forth in haste, ) 

And for her lover looks about, rejoicing for to tell 
How hardly she had 'scaped that night the danger that befell. 

And as she knew right well the place and fashion of the tree 
(As which she saw so late before :) even so when she did see 
The colour of the berries turned, she was uncertain whether 
It were the tree at which (hev b^th agreed to meet together. 

While in this doubtful state she stood, she cast her eye aside. 

And there beweUered in his blood her lover she espied 
Lie sprawling with his dying limbs: at which she started back, 

And looked pale as any box, a shuddering through her strake, 

£ven like the sea which suddenly with wnizzing noise doth move, I 
i with a little blast of wind it is but touched above. r 




But when approaching nearer him she knew it was her love, ^ 

She beat her breast, she shrieked out, she tore her golden hairs. 
And taking him between her arms did wash his wounds with tears 
She mixed her weeping vrith his blood, and kissing all his face 
(Which now became as cold a.s ice) she said in woeful case : 

Alasi what chance, my Pyramus hath parted thee and me? 

Make answer, O my Pyramus : it is thy Thisbe, even she 
Whom thou dost love most heartily that speaketh unto thee: . 
Give ear ^d raise thy heavy head. He, nearing Thisbc's name, 
Lift up his dying eyes, and, having seen her, closed the same. 

But wnen she knew her mantle there, and saw his scabbard lie 





Without the sword : Unhappy man, thy love hath made thee die : 

Thy love (she said) hath made thee slay thyself. This hand of mine 
Is strong enough to do the like. My love no less than thine 
Shall give me force to work my wound. 1 will pursue thee dead. 

And, wretched woman as 1 am, it shall of me be said. 

That like as of thy death 1 was the only ^use and blame. 

So am I thy companion eke and partner in the same. _ 

For death which only could, alas ! asunder part us twain. 

Shall never so dissever us but we will meet again. 

And you the parents of us both, most wretched folk alive. 

Let this request that I shall make in both our names belyve 
Entreat you to permit that we. whom chaste and steadfast love. 

And whom even death hath joined in one, may, as it doth behove, 

In one grave be together laid. And thou unhappy tree. 

Which shroudest now the corse of one. and shalt anon through me 
Shroud two, of this same slaughter hold the sicker signs for ay"! 

Black be the colour of thy fruit and mouniing like alway, ) 

Such as the murder of us twain may evermore bewray. J 

This said, she took the sword, yet warm with slaughter of her love, 

And setting it beneath her breast did to the heart it shovq. 

Her prayer with the gods and with their parents took effect. 

For when the fruit is throughly ripe, the berry is bespect 
With colour tending to a black. And that which after fire 
Remained, rested in one tomb as Thisbe did desire. 

In the 1593 edition the misprint “Minus tombe”, which occurs 
also in Thomson’s poem, is corrected, and the line about the wall 
runs — 

“ O thou envious wall (they said) why letst thou lovers thus? 

(ii) From 1 . Thomson’s j4 New Sonet of Pyramus and Thisbie to 
(he [tune of] Downe right Squier in Clement Robinson’s A Hande^ 
ful of Pleasant Delites ( 1 584). 

You dames. I say, that climb the mount of Helicon, 

Come on with me, and give account what hath been done. 

Come tell the chance ye Muses all, 
and doleful news. 

Which on these lovers did befall, 
which I accuse. 

In Babylon not long agone 
a noble prince did dwell. 

Whose daugnter bright dimm’d each one's sight 
so far she did excel. 

Another lord of high renown 
who had a son. 

And dwelling there within the town 
great love begun : 

Pyramus this noble knight 
I tell you tnie : 

Who with the love of Thisbie bright 
did cares renew ; 

It came to pass their secrets was 
beknown unto them both: 

And then in mind they place do find 
where they their love unclothe. 

This love they use long tract of time, 
till it befell 

At last they promised to meet at prime 
by Minus* well. 

Where they might lovingly embrace 
in love's delight. 



That he might see his Thisbie’s face 
and she his sight. 

In joyful case, she approached the place 
Where she her Pvramus 
Had thought to view d but was renew d 
to them most dolorous. 

Thus while she suys for Pyramus 
there did proceed 
Out of the wood a lion fierce, 

Made Thisbie dread: 

And as in haste she Bed away 
her mantle fine 
The lion tare instead of prey^ 
till that the time 
That Pyramus proceeded thus 
and see how lion tare 
The mantle this of Thisbie his^ 
he desperately doth fare. 

For why he thought the lion had 
fair Thisbie slaine. 

And then the beast with his bright blade 
he slew certain : 

Then made he moan and said alas* 

(O wretched wight) 

Now art thou in a woful case 
for Thisbie bright: 

O gods abovcj my faithful love 
shall never fail this need : 

For this my breath by fatal death 
shall weave Atropus^ thread. 

Then from his sheath he drew his blade 
and to his heart 

He thrust the point, and life did vade 
with painful smart. 

Then Thisbie she from cabin came 
with pleasure great. 

And to the well apace she ran 
there for to treat : 

And to discuss to Pyramus 
of all her former fears. 

And when slain she found him truly, 
she shed forth bitter tears. 

When sorrow groat that she had made 
she took in hand 
The bloody knife to end her life 
by fatal band. 

You ladies all peruse and see 
the faithfulness, 

How these two lovers did agree 
to die in distress : 

You Muses wail, and do not fail, 
but still do you lament 
Those lovers twain who with such pain 
did die so well content. 

Chaucer^s Legetida Tesbe Babilonie^ MartiriSy in his Legend ef 
Good Women (circ. 1384), follows Ovid closely. But for the ‘‘envious 
wall ” of Golding (line 28), Chaucer has 

‘‘Thus wolde they scyn ‘alias I thou wikked wal* ‘ y 

with which compare v. 1. 178. 





In 1893, Miss Margaret L. Lee, of St. Hugh’s Hall, Oxford, pub- 
lished, from the Rawlinson Poet. ^IS. 212, a play called a 

T^uelfth Night Alerriment. This was played at St. John’s College, 
Oxford, in 1602, and professes to have l>een acted by “youths of the 
Parish”. It is a burlesque, much in the vein of the Pyramus and 
Thisbe interlude in Afidsummer-Night* s Dreamy of the story of Nar- 
cissus, told in the third book of Ovid’s Afetamorphoses. It is clearly 
due to the influence of our play, for at line 494 occurs the stage-direc- 
tion Enter one -with a bttckeit and boughes and grasse. This im- 
personation of a Well is palpably modelled on that of Wall and 
Moonshine. The following verbal reminiscences of Afidsummer- 
Night's Dream may also be noted; — 

(1) line 109: “ It is a most condolent tragedye wee shall move”. 
Cf. Atidsummer-Night's Dreanty i. 2. 2i: “I will condole in some 
measure”; and i. 2. 33; “a lover is more condoling”. 

(2) line 239: “O furious fates, O three thread-thrumming sisters.” 
Cf. Afidsnmmer-Night's Dreamy v. i. 274-276— 

“ Approach, yc Furies fell, 

O Fates, come, come. 

Cut thread and thrum”. 

( 3 ) line 266: “ Phibbus walls”. C(. Afidsummer^Night's Dreaniy 
i. 2. 28: “Phibbus car”. 

(4) The blunders of *Late-mouse’ for ‘Latmus’ (line 279) and 
* Davis ’ for ‘ Davus * (line 400) remind us of * Limandcr *, ‘ Shafalus 
and Procrus’, and * Ninny’s tomb*. 

(5) lines 341-347— 

“ O thou whose cheeks are like the skye so blewe. 

Whose nose is rubye, of the sunnlike hue. 

Whose forhe.'td is most plaine without aP rinkle 
Whose eyes like starts in frosty nicht doe twinkle. 

Most hollowe are thy cyelidds, and thy ball 
Whiter than ivory, brighter yea withafl. 

Whose ledge of teeth is brighter far than ^ett is, 

Whose lipps are too, too good for any Icttice.” 

And again, lines 677-8 — 

But oh remaine and let thy christall lippe 
No more of this same cherry water sip , 

Cf. Afidsummer’Night's Dream y v. i. 317-319. 

(6) lines 408-41 1 — 

"Florida, As true as Helen was to Menela, 

So true to thee will be thy Florida. 

Clots. As was to trusty Pyramus truest ITiisbee 

So true to you will ever thy sweeie Clois be." 

Cf. Afidsummer^Night's Dreanty v. i. 195-198. 




ON THE ALLEGORY IN ii. t. 148-168. 

There can be no doubt that in “ the imperial votaress , the fair 
vestal throned by the west”, Shakespeare intended a graceful com- 
pliment to Elizabeth, the “virgin Queen”. Two fantastic attempts 
nave been made to interpret the rest of the passage as an allegory in 
a similar vein. 

(1) Warburton suggested that by the mermaid was intended Mary 
Queen of Scots, so called (i) “to denote her reign over her kingdom 
situate in the sea ; and (2) her beauty and intemperate lust”; that 
the dolphin is her husband, the Dauphin of France; that the rude 
sea” is Scotland, and that the falling stars are the English nobles 
who ruined themselves in her cause. 

(2) Halpin* explained the mermaid and the stars as part of the 
pageant and the fireworks at the “Princely Pleasures” with which 
the Earl of Leicester entertained Elizabeth at Kenilworth in 1575 * 
Of these festivities several contemporary accounts exist, and it is quite 
possible that Shakespeare may himself have been present at them as a 
boy of 1 1, since Kenilworth is at no great distance from Stratford. Dic- 
ing this visit Leicester attempted to win Elizabeth’s hand, while he 
was at the same time carrying on an intrigue with Lettice, Countess 
of Essex, whom he afterwards married. Halpin believed that these 
events were referred to in the play, and that the Countess of Essex 
was the “ little western flower”. He found another secret history 
of Leicester’s love-affairs in Lyly’s Endymion, in which he considered 
that the Countess figures as Floscula. 

Halpin’s explanation of the mermaid and the stars is certainly 
more plausible than Warburlon’s, and there may very likely be some 
allusion in the passage to Leicester’s unsuccessful wooing of Elizabeth. 
But I much doubt the identification of the “western flower” with 
Lady Essex. It would hardly give Elizabeth any great pleasure to 
recall Leicester’s relations with that frail lady ; and as the flower is 
an essential factor in the plot of the play there is really no necessity 
at all to twist it into an historical allusion. 



William Stanley was the younger son of Edward, fourth Earl of 
Derby. He was born in 1561. In 1572 he went with his elder 

> Obtrcn't VitioH. By the Rev. N. J. Halpin. (Shakespeare Society, 1843.) 



brother, Ferdinando, Lord Strange, to St. John^s College, Oxford. 
In 1582 he went abroad with a tutor, Richard Uoyd, and travelled 
in France, Spain, Germany, Egypt, the I loly Land, Turkey, Russia, 
and Greenland. His adventures, as Herodotus says, “won their 
way to the mythical”. It is not certainly known at what date he 
returned to England, but from 1587 to 1590 he was going and 
coming between London and his father’s houses in the north. By 
the deaths of his father on 25th Sept., 1593, and of his brother 
Ferdinando on i6th April, 1594, he became Earl of Derby. In 
the following year he married Elizabeth Vere, daughter of the Earl 
of Oxford. Stowe in his Atina/s thus records the event: — 

"'rhe 26 of January William Earl of Derby married the Earl of Oxford’s 
daughter at the court then at Greenwich, which marriage feast was there most 
royally kept 

I am convinced that an Elizabethan marriage feast could not be 
“ royally kept *’ without a mastjue, or something corresponding to a 

In 1599-1600 the Earl of Derby himself entertained a company 
of players, who acted at court on Feb. 5, 1600. He seems to nave 
even written plays for them. Two letters preserved in the Record 
Office (Cai. Dorn. £liz, 271; 34, 35) speak of him in June, 1599, 
as engaged in “penning comedies for the common players”. I owe 
some of the above facts to three jxtpers by the late Mr. James Green- 
street in the Genealogist (new senes, vii. 205 ; viii. 8, 137). But 
Mr. Greenstreet says nothing of the marriage or of its possible con- 
nection with A Midsummer-Night' s Dream. Nor does he seem to 
have known anything of Lord IJerby’s players. If he had, perhaps 
he would have refrained from trying to prove that the “common 
players” fo.- whom the “comedies” were written were the Cham- 
berlain’s men, and, in fact, that ^Vi^iam Stanley was William 



In ii. I. 74-80, Oberon taunts Titania with an old love-story 
between her and Theseus. Oberon himself, according to romance, 
was the son of Morgan la Fay and Julius Qesar (cf. Appendix A, 
§ 6, p. 138), but I can find no hint of any relations between Theseus 
and the Fairy Queen before Shakespeare, Probably he invented it in 
order to link two of the stories of his plot together. The following 
noticeable entry occurs in the Stationers' Register for 1608: — 

1.1 .ri ugusti 

Master Pavier- Entered for his copy under the hands of Ma.tter Wilson and the 
Wardens, A book, being A History <>/ Tyiana and Tkgseus. 



If an edition was published in 1608, it does not appear to have 
survived. The work probably passed, with Pavier’s other copy- 
rights, to Edward Brewster and Robert Bird in 1626. An edition 
was published in 1636, of which a few copies are in the British 
Museum, the Bodleian, and elsewhere. The book is described on 
the title-page as The History of Titana and Theseus., and the 
authoPs name is given as \V. Bettie. It is a regular Elizabethan 
love-pamphlet, written in the style of Lyly and Greene. But it is 
disappointing to find that there is nothing about the Queen of the 
Fairies in it. Titana is the daughter of Meleager, King of Achaia, 
with whom Theseus falls in love, and whom he ultimately marries 
after much parental opposition, and various wanderings, in the 
course of which he is entertained by the Landgrave of Hesse, and 
is landed by a Venetian merchant on the coast of Bohemia. There 
is no sign in plot or language that the novel either inspired or was 
in any way inspired by A Midsummer-Hight' s Dream. But it is 
just possible that if, as is likely enough, W. Bettie translated from 
an earlier Italian original, Shakespeare may have been struck by the 
conjunction of names, and have borrowed that of Titana or Titania 
for his Fairy Queen. The likelihood that he got it from Ovid, 
Metamorphoses., iii. 171, is certainly diminished by the fact that 
Golding does not there preserve it in his translation. (See Ap- 
pendix A, § 15.) 


§ I. Introduction. — The play of A Midsummer-NighVs 
Dream is written partly in prose and partly in verse, and the 
verse, again, is partly rhymed and partly unrhymed. The 
present essay is intended to explain the meaning of these 
distinctions and to point out the way in which Shakespeare 
used the various modes of expression at his command.* 

§ 2 . Stress. The possibility of verse depends mainly upon 
tliat quality of speech which is known as stress or accent. 
Speech is made up of a succession of syllables^ that is, of 
sounds or groups of sounds, each consisting of a vowel, or of 
a vowel accompanied by one or more consonants, and pro- 
nounced by a single muscular effort. This succession is 
broken up by pauses, which range in length from the slight 
pause after each word to the important pause at the end of a 
sentence. Syllables differ amongst themselves in various 
manners, which depend upon variations in the complicated 
physical processes by which sounds are produced. We are 
here only concerned with two of these differences, namely 
quantity and stress. The quantity of a syllabic is measured 
by the time which the effort of pronouncing it takes. Syllables 
are classified according to quantity as ionj' or short. Nearly 
all Latin and Greek metres rest upon this distinction, but in 
English it isof secondary importancc(see§§8.(ii),(iii),(viii); I2. 

* The student who wishes to pursue the subject of Shakespeare’s metre further 
may fuid the following books and essays* amongst many others* useful. Goswin 
KOnig. Dtr Vtrs in Drafntn (a mine of learning by a German 

who cannot scan English); J. Ik Mayor* Chafitrs on En^iuh (on the 

whole, the most suggestive introduction to the subject); E. A. Abbott* SMaki- 
s/rarian Gram^nar i 5 S 452-515); Henry Sweet* History 0/ English Soun(U\ 
Sidney l^nier* 1 hf Science 0/ English \’ersc\ J. A. Symonds, filank f'erse; 
J. Schipper, Enelische Meirik (i88i-t888)» Grundriss tu Englischen l^Ietrik 
(1895'; A. J. Elh$, Early English Pronunciation (E.E T.S.); Robert Bridges, 
Miltons Prosody (1804); C. H. Herford* Outline 0/ Skakesjheares Prosody in 
Eichard IP (Warwick Series); N. Delius, Die Prosa in Shakespeare^ s Dramen 
{in yahrhuch dcr Deiitschcn Shakespeare-GescUschaft. v. 227); J. Heuser, Der 
Couple treim in Shakespeare's Dranten .yahrhuch, xxviii. 177; xxix.-xxx, 235': 
H. Sliarpe, Prose in Shakespeare's Plays {Transactions of the New Shakesj>eare 
Society, 1880-1882, p. ^23). rhe “’verse tests” arc dealt with in N. S. Soc» 
actions for 1874 (passim ; F. G. Klcay, Shakespeare Manual {1875'* Metncal 
Tests applied to Shakespeare {in Inglcby’s Shakespeare, the Man and the Eook^ 
part ii , t88t, p. 50); F. J. Furnivall, Introduction to Gers'lnus" Commentari€S\ 
w. Hertzberg, Metrisches, Grammatisehes^ Chronolorisches su Shakespeare*s 
Dranupt {yahrhuch, xiii 248I ; H. Conrad. Metris^e Untersuchuneen sur 
Festillupig des Ab/assungzeit vof$ Shakespeare's Dramen (yahrhnch^ xxxi. 
318', and G. Kdnig, op. cit, ch. vii. 




(iii) ). The stress of a syllable is the amount of force or impulse 
with which it is uttered. Every syllable of course requires 
some of this force or impulse to be audible at all ; but it is cus- 
tomary to speak of syllables which have more of it as stressed^ 
and of those which have less as unstressed. Thus in the 
word Oberon., the first syllable is stressed, the last two are 
unstressed. Stress is sometimes called accent, and is con- 
veniently denoted by a (')» thus, O'beron. Most words other 
than monosyllables have a normal stress on one or more 
syllables, and it is a tendency of English, as of all Teutonic 
languages, to throw this stress as near the beginning of the 
word as possible. (See, ho\vever, § lo.) Long monosyllables 
are also normally stressed. Short monosyllables, however,, 
and some dissyllables have no normal stress, but are capable 
of receiving one, if the meaning they convey is of importance 
in the sentence. This deliberate imposition of a stress for 
the purpose of bringing out a meaning is called emphasis. 

[N. B. — Some writers distinguish not merely between unstressed and 
stressed syllables, but between unstressed, lightly or weakly stressed, and 
strongly stressed syllables. As a matter of fact, the degrees of stress 
which a syllable is capable of receiving are more numerous than either 
of these classifications implies ; and on this fact much of the beauty of 
verse depends. But, for the purposes of scansion, the important thing 
is not the absolute amount of stress, but the relative stress of the syl- 
lables in the same foot (cf. § 3). The introduction of light stress appears 
to me only to confuse matters, because if you use the threefold classifi- 
cation, no two readers will agree in the amount of stress to be put on 
particular syllables: it is hard enough to get them to do so with the 
twofold division. Moreover, in practice, the notion of light stress has 
led many metrists to disregard level rhythms, such as the pyrrhic or the 
spondee, altogether. Yet such assuredly exist. This is not the place 
to discuss the subject at length, but it is right to explain my departure 
from usage. But let me repeat, that the limits of variation both in 
stress and rhythm are much beyond what any system of scansion can 


§3. Rhythm. Stress is a quality of speech, alike in prose 
and verse; and, moreover, alike in prose and verse, when 
stressed and unstressed syllables follow each other in such an 
order as to be pleasing to the ear, the result is rhythm. But 
the rhythm of verse is much more definite than that of prose. 
Verse consists of feet arranged in lines', that is to say, its 
rhythm depends upon a series of groups of syllables, in each 
of which groups the stress is placed according to a recognized 
law, while the series is broken at regularly recurring intervals 
by a pause. And the various kinds of rhythm, or metres, may 
be classified according to (a) the number of feet or syllables 
in the line, and (^) the position of the stress in the foot. The 



principal kinds of feet are best known by names adapted 
from the classical quantitative metres. They are these : — 

In ascending rhythm. 

lamb. Non-slress-f Stress, as, ap^ce. 

Anapaest. Non-stress-fnon-stress + slress. as. i' the ihrdat. 

In descending rhythm. 

Trochee. Stress + non-stress. as. happy. 

Dactyl. Stress -i- non-stress -f non-stress, as. ddwager. 

In level rhythm. 

Spondee. Stress + stress, as. step-dame. 

Pyrrhic. Non-stress -I- non-stress, as, in the. 

Most kinds of English verse can be scanned^ that is, metri- 
cally analysed, as combinations of one or more of these feet 
in lines of different length. 

§4. Rhyme. Another quality, which may or may not be 
present in English verse is rhyme. This is produced when 
the last stressed syllables of two or more neighbouring lines 
have the same or nearly the same sound. The ordinary form 
of rhyme is that in which the same vowel and final con- 
sonantal sounds are accompanied by a different initial con- 
sonantal sound; as ritig.^ sitig. \Vhere there is no such 
different initial consonant, the rhyme is called identical (cf. 
e.g. iii. I. 151, 156, 159). Where all the consonantal sounds 
differ, and only the vowel sound is the same, as in ring^ ktll^ 
then assonance and not rhyme is produced. 

§ 5. Blank Verse. — I'he principal metre used by Shake- 
speare is the iambic decasyllabic or heroic line. This con- 
sists, normally, of five iambic feet, with a pause after the 
second or third foot as well as at the end of the line; thus: 

When wheat' | is green', ) when haw' | thorn buds' | appear' (i. r. 185). 

Rhyme may or may not be present. On the rhymed varie- 
ties see § 17; hut far more important for the study of 
Shakespeare is the unrhymed variety, generally known as 
blank verse. Blank verse was first used in English by the 
Earl of Surrey in his translation of the Aeneid. It became 
the fashion amongst the court writers of tragedy, who thought 
with Sidney that to eliminate rhyme was to be classical; and 
was introduced into the popular drama by Marlowe in his 
Tamhurhiine. Nash satirized the “drumming decasyllabon”, 
but the new metre proved so suitable for dramatic purposes, 
that it soon relegated rhyme to a quite secondary position. 
Elizabethan drama is practically a blank-verse drama. 

§ 6. The Type of Blank Verse and its Varieties. — We 
have seen that a blank-verse line is normally composed of 



five iambic feet, with a middle and a final pause. to 

compose an entire poem of lines rigidly adhering to this 
structure would involve two difficulties. In the hrst place 
it would produce a terrible monotony of effect ; and in ttie 
second place it would be an intolerable restraint upon expres- 
sion. It would be impossible so to arrange words that they 
should fall into sections of exactly equal length and exactly 
similar stress, and should yet convey adequately the poet s 
meaning. Therefore all writers of blank verse have allowed 
themselves to deviate very considerably from the normal type, 
within the limits of this general principle, that the variations 
must never extend so far as to prevent that type frorn bein^, 
easily recognizable as that of the verse as a whole. l ne in- 
terpretation of this principle depends, of course, upon the ear 
of the particular writer; each handles his blank verse in a 
different and individual fashion. In the case of Shakespeare 
we may go further and say, that his fashion of handling 
blank verse was constantly changing from the beginning 
the end of his poetic career. Therefore it is 
examine each play separately, and to determine for eac 1 
limits within which Shakespeare’s ear allowed him to vary 
his metre at the time when he wrote it. In doing this i 
well to remember that the results can only be approxima e 
and not scientifically precise; for this reason, that just as 
Shakespeare wrote by ear and not by a prion rules, so the 
ear of the reader — the educated ear of the cultivated reader 
— is the only ultimate criterion of how any individual line 1 
to be scanned. And though in the main such readers \vi 
agree, there will always be certain lines which can be reaa in 
two ways, one of which will sound best to one ear, one 0 
another. See e.g. §§ 8 (ii), (<r), {e)\ 12 (iii). 

§ 7. Variations in the Materials of Verse.— But before we 
proceed to inquire what varieties of blank verse Shakespeare 
permitted himself in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, we have 
to consider another question hardly less important. n a 
verse the problem before the writer is to accommodate o 
given type of metre words of varying stress and a varying 
number of syllables. Where difficulties arise, two courses are 
open— either to modify the metre or to modify the words, icor 
both are alike capable, within limits, of modification, 
normal pronunciation of any word is that which an e uc 
reader of careful enunciation would give to it m reading P • 
But this normal pronunciation, especially as regards t e 
ber of syllables, is often modified : (a) dialectically, 1 ^ , 

quially. Thus we say 'em for them, and even, 1 am airaia. 



*cos for because. And poetry has at all times claimed for 
itself, within certain customary bounds, a still larger license of 
modification. What has been said so far applies to modern 
as well as Elizabethan poetry. But it must be added that 
the bounds of this license were very much wider for an 
Elizabethan than they are for us. Elizabethan pronuncia- 
tion, like Elizabethan grammar, was in a transition stage. 
Our comparative uniformity in the matter had been by no 
means arrived at. Even the normal pronunciation diflered 
in many respects from ours. Thus Shakespeare regularly 
said persever (iii. 2. 237) where we sTsy persevere, and, pro- 
bably, nceld (iii. 2. 204) where we say needle. But m addition 
to this, there were many obsolete pronunciations which, 
though they had ceased to be normal, were still living enough 
not to be out of place in poetry. Without distinguishing 
between licenses which are and those which are not still pos- 
sible to us in verse, we will consider what amount of varia- 
tion we hjive to allow for in reading A ^Iidsuntnicr^l^t^ht s 
Dream from our own normal prose pronunciation. And this 
(rt) as regards the number of syllables in a word; ip) as 
regards the position of stress. After which we can go on to 
the varieties of metre itself. 

r^V B — It is sometimes convenient to mark a suppressed or slurred 
letter by an apostrophe (M’). or by a dot underneath it (e); a separately- 
sounded syllable by a dicercsis (") on the vowel, and two merged 
syllables by a circumflex ( ).] 

S 8. Syllabic Variation.— (i) The unstressed e of the verb 
and noun inflexions was gradually disappearing in Shake- 
speare's time. He sounds it, on the whole, more frequently 
in the earlier than in the later plays, but his use varies for 
the different forms. In some the sounded e is the rule, in 
others the exception. Thus : 

(<z) -es (3 pers. sing.). The unconlracted form is only found in 
(/ Henry VI., i. 3. 5I, provokes (.? Henry 1'/., iv. 7. 8), both of which are 
possibly un-Shakespearian ; feepes {.Winter 5 Tale, iv. 4. 148). 

{6) -« (gen. sing.). Here. too. the unconlracted form is practic^ly 
obsolete; but our play has two instances— (ii. i. 7). and nigk/is 
(iv. I. 93)', and there are a few others in early plays. 

{c) ^eth (3 pers. sing.). Contraction is the rule. But we have 
taketh (ii. i. 52), slayeth (ii. 1. 190), constraineth (iii. 2. 428). ehormttk 
(iv. I. 80). There are similar exceptions in all the early plays. 

(d) -est (2 pers. sing ). Always contracted in this play, although the 
uncontracted form is found in other early plays. 

(e) -est (superl.). Here, on the contrary, the unconlracted form is 
normal. Contraction is found in some of the later plays; in me 
only possible example is ska/lonest (iii. 2. 13). and that is probably to 
be read shallowest (cf. (ii) /). 



if) -ediperf . ). Contraction is the rule; but we have ravished (ii. i. 78)- 
(^) -ed (part. ). Both contracted and uncontracted forms are freely 
used, though the former are the most numerous. 

(,k) -en (part.). Always contracted in stolen (i. i. 32. 

—These rules do not apply to cases of sibilants before -es, -est, 
or of dentals before ^ed, where the e is necessarily sounde . J 

(ii) An unaccented short vowel coming between two con- 
sonants may be elided or slurred in almost any place. 1 is 
is especially so when the vowel is followed by /> or n 

These consonants^ with ///, are known as liquids or vowe - 
likes. When a vowel-like follows another consonant, it 
makes the very slightest difference in the pi^nunciation, 
whether a vowel sound is interposed or not. This may e 
tested by comparing the pronunciation of able (so written, 
but pronounced abel') and ably. Instances of such elision 
or slurring in our play are; 

(a) Before / — privilege {W. i. 220), devilish {xW. 2. 129}.' Vkp 

1. $6). But the same word is pronounced changeltytg (u. i. 23). , 

case oi perilous, the contracted form was often spelt (m. i- *2/. 

and became almost a distinct word. , v • 

(d) Before n-evening (v. i. 39), pensioners {penshuners) (n. i. 10; . 
but business i. 124). In iii. 2. 292 the same word is pronounced m 
both ways : 

And with | her pers [ onage, her 1 tall per [ sonage. 

The contraction is found in fallen (iii. 2. 417) and ^lolen (i. 1. 32. 

(on this see also § 8 (i) (A)); and \x\?uaven (ii. i. 243- 51; 
&c.), (hi. 2. 68. a I- 159). though the last three words 

might be treated as gi'en, e'en, se'en (as in sen-night) under § 8 (''•)• 

(^) Before r^ithering (i. i. 6). torturing {'e. J. 37); ^ 

147), dUtemperature (ii. i* io6), preposterously 121), P 

(ii. I. 149), sovereignty i. 82); \s\xX funerals (i. i. 1 At) y forge ( . ♦ 

81). and. of course, austerity (i. i. 90). where the vowel is ^tr^sed. In 
ii. I. 123 we have votaress, in ii. i. 163 probably votaress, 
spirit presents difficulties. It occurs altogether ten limes m the p ay. 
In eight of these it is not contracted, two instances (11. i...2H ' • 

4) falling under § 13. But in i. i. 14. and probably m u. i. i, contrac 
tion is necessary. This cannot take the form spirit, because tn® first 
syllable is stressed. Some metrists think that in such cases the alterna- 
tive form sprite should be used. This form in any case occurs in ii. i. 
33 and v. i. 367, 379. where it is needed for the rhyme, aod wh - 

so spelt by the Qq. F i. except that Q 2 F 1 spell 
Others would treat the second i as elided before /, and read j/ • 

id) m-eeremony {y. 55): but possibly the first syllable m this 

word was sometimes pronounced as in ana 1 . 

(<) Before b in words ending in -ble — ****distt^utshqble{ - - ’ 

IV. I. 184), and perhaps admirable (v. i. 27); but here we a 

admirable (ii. d), or by reading howsder for howsoever (ix.). putting a 
trochee for an iamb (§ 12 (ii) ). and altering the stress of admirable (9 10 
(i) ), we may get — 

But, how' I soc’er', 1 strange' and | admiri 1 able. 


Perhaps in all these cases we should treat the ^ of the -bU ibel) « elided 
(ii. d )? though this is not the modem way of shortening the words 

(/) Before c — innqctnce^S^. 2. 45), medtetfte (ui. 2. 264), iragteal (v. x. 

^^(/^^Before p-canqpied (ii. i- 251); but see note ad loc. as to other 

possible ways of scanning the line. 

(/S) Before s—courUiy (ii. 2. 77)* but courtesy (ni. 2. 147). 

Ill Eiefore (see (r) above). 

(y ) Before w— following \y\. i. X31; ni. 2. 82); shalhfwest {\\\, 2. 13); 
but see (i), (r) above. 

(iii) Similarly, a short, unstressed vowel sound is occasion- 
ally inserted before a vowel-like, so as to create an additional 
syllable. Thus we have : 

Before (iii- 2- 282). 
(d) Before r~^vond\e\rous (v. i. 59). 
now confined to different senses, are 
speare. Cf. ii. i. 31 to6. 

The forms through, thorough, 
used indiscriminately by Shake- 

(iv) Some words suffer the elision of an unstressed prefix, 

especially when that consists of a vowel unaccompanied by 
consonants. In this play we have for along (lu. 2. 339), 

'nointed for anointed (iii. 2. 350 , W'f for escape 2. 

'tide for betide (v. i. 202), and, possibly, bout for about {i\i. i. 
q6 ) But in this last line we may either scan fou bout or 
•/ about (cf. (v) below). In the case of a few words such a 
prefix has been normally lost. See Glossary, svv. bate, bay 

(v) Many common words, pronouns, auxiliaries, preposi* 
tions, and articles suffer mutilation in various ways, and 
meree in colloquial combinations. Thus we have rj/, 
fo/t, shdsy w/re. In i. i. 27 we should, I think, scan 
man hath as This man *th ; / had r.ither m 111. 2. 64 should 
be rid rather \ and in iii. 1. 96 about may be contracted 
into y about. Similarly the becomes M’ before a vowel, and 
even sometimes before a consonant, as perhaps in : 

I know I a bank i where th‘ wild ) thyme blows (ii. i. 249I. 

But see the note on this line, together with § 12 (iii). The 
prepositions on^ ofy in become o\ i\ as in Cfaith (in. 2. 204), 
but this shortening does not affect the number of syllaoies. 
These colloquial contractions are singularly few in our play ; 
in the later plays they become very numerous. 

(vi) Two adjacent unstressed vowels are oftenjnerged into a 

single syllable. Thus recreant (iii. 2. 409), emptying 1. 216); 

confusion (i. i. amiable {W, i. 2). Often this mei^ing 
is due to the consonantal affinities of certain vowels. 1 nus 


i readily becomes as in cojt^anion (i. i. i$)^obedtence (i. 
I. 37), warrior (ii. i. 71X I^dia (ii. i. 69), spaniel (ii. i. 203), 
and so with e in beauteous (i. i. 104). The^combination tt 
produces a sound resembling shy as in patiently (ii- i. I 4 °); 

vexaHon (i. I. 22), nuptTal (i. i. i), but we have also nuptial 
(v. I. 75). With forms in -tiony -siony the contraction appears 
to be normal, except before a marked pause. 

(vii) Similarly an unstressed vowel is often absorbed into 
an adjacent stressed vowel or diphthong : 

Thus prdyers {i. i. 197), 1. 245!' /tre{flcT), (ii. i- sjj 

<ii. 1. 131). /^ard (iii. i. 69). bting (iii. 2. 69). Aour{i. 1. }). our (i. i. 
15); bul v6ydge (ii. i. 134), iron (lem) (ii. i. 196). c&wdrd (m. 2. 421;. 

(viii) By a converse process, a long vowel or diphthong is 
sometimes split up into two syllables, one stressed and one 
unstressed. Thus hoard becomes hoard (iv, i. 33)* ^ 

word fairy is generally treated as a dissyllable in the play ; 
but in ii. i. 58 it is a trisyllable, going back to what is really 
the older pronunciation, (see Glossary). 

(ix) Certain consonants can be elided when they come be- 
tween two vowels, and the vowels then coalesce into a single 
syllable. These consonants are v and th. 

(fl) V. In accordance with this principle never beeves neer, and 
<nier becomes der\ possibly also we get e'en for even, se'en for seven (as 

sen-night), axxd gi'en for given \ but cf. (ii). (^)- w 

(^) M. most usual example is whether, which must be pro- 

nounced whe'er ii^i. 1. 69; iii. i. 137; iii- 2. 81 ; but we also appear to 
have another in (ii. i. 32; ii. 2. 156). 

[Ar. 5 .— (i) Contractions of all kinds are far more numerous m the 
later plays, when Shakespeare was trying to cram as much thougni as 
he could into his lines. In the present play contracted forms gener^iy 
occur in the middle of the line, open forms at the end of the line or oe- 
fore a pause. The license of the feminine rhythm (§ 13) accounts in 
part for this. ,1 

(2) I have not distinguished between elision and slurrtng. " 

one case the sound is completely dropped ; in the other it is passea over 
so rapidly as to be barely appreciable. But in both cases it is regaraea 
^ non-existent for metrical purposes. I should add that a large n 
wr of syllables which Kfinig and others treat as slurred, 1 regara 
foiroing part of trisyllabic feet. Cf. § 12 (iii). . _ ^ 

(3) The spelling of the Qq. Ff. gives very little help 

more difficult questions of contraction. They only mark a ' 

and those not consistently. Nor are such excellent modern editions as 
the Cambridge Shakespeare quite faultless in this respect.] 


6 q Proper Names. -These are generally the o^asion of 
many irregularities, but they do not present any difficidt> in 
our play. We have DemUrius and Dem/lriiis, Wmiia and 
Hc'rmia Hilleiia, Helena and JHlen ; Titdnia and TilAnia, 

"n always O heron and not aberon. i 

syllable, the ^ being mute. P^rigcnia (n. i. 78) should, 1 

think be pronounced /Vr/;^.W The most anomalous words 

arc Theseus and Kgeus\ acco^hng to^Greck usage they 

should both be dissyllables, but Shakespeare 

always has Egifus, and ™scus *• 

38), Chaucer has 7'//.V/V> regularly in The hutghUs Tale. 

S 10. Stress Variation.— The normal prose suess of cer- 
tain words was, and to some extent still is, variable in verse. 

(i) In words of Romance origin this is often due to the 
conflict between the pronunciation suggested by the 
of Latin, and that suggested by the Teutonic tendency 
already spoken of (§ 2), to throw the stress as near the 
beginning^ of the word as possible. rhus wc have 
(i 158) as well as rt‘veuue (1. i. 6), and we have 
(i. 1. \ ^\\ exile (iii. 2. 386), sojourned (111. 2. *70».witb pos- 
sibly (V. I. 27) and luscious {w. ^te‘ad of 

the normal idict, /xile, sdiourned, ddmirable, luscious In 
rheumaltc{u. i. 105), on the 

nunciation is the abnormal one, Courtescy (ii. — 77 / 
ceptional, and somewhat awkward. 

(ii) In some compound words which are still felt as niade 
up of two parts, the stress may fall on cither part, accordi g 
to the emphasis desired. Thus wc h.avc lack-l^e (ii. 2 
,n{sprised\in. 2. 74\ mistake (v. i. 9°^ instead of the more 
normal Idck-lovcy mispriscdy mistdke. 

(iii) The pronunciation of sinister (v. i. 162) to rhyme with 

whisper^ and of cerhiin (v. 1. 129) is burlesque. 

rA.i?.-(i) Owing to the conflict l>ctween the Romance Tcut^ic 
pronunciation, even the normal Elizabethan stress does not abvays 
agree with ours. Shakespeare always has persHer (in. 2. 237). gener 

In some clles where the Elizabethan stress was variable. 
both forms in different senses, thus: dnlic. antique, and htXman.humdne.^ 

s 1 1 Varieties of Metre.— So much, then, for the possible 

variations in the materials which have to ® 

metre ; we come now to those of metre itseK. These may 
take the form of (rt) variations upon the iambic 
the foot ; (^) variations due to the insertion of supernumerary 



extra-metrical syllables; (<r) variations due to mutilation of a 
foot; (</) variations in the number of feet in the line, {f) 
variations in the number and position of the pauses. 

§ 12. Non-Iambic Feet. 

(i) Spondee and Pyrrhic. Lines containing the complete 
number of five iambic feet are comparatively rare. vVnen 
several of these occur together, they produce an ctlect oi 
regular rise and fall which is stiff and unnatural. Shake- 
speare reserves this rhythm for the burlesque. 

You. la' I dies, you', i whose gen' 1 tie hearts' 1 do fea^ 

The small' I est mon' | strous mouse' 1 that creeps | on floor'. 

May nov/ ( perchance' | both quake' | and irem I ble here , 

^^en li' 1 on rough' I in wild' | est rage' | doth roar 

' ^ ' (v. 1 . 215 - 218 ). 

In order, therefore, to produce a more natur^ rhythm, 
level stress is introduced into one or more feet. That is to 
say, the unstressed and stressed syllables of the iamb are 
replaced by two stressed syllables (spondee), or two unstressed 
syllables {pyrrkic) : thus — 

And the | quaint' ma' \ zes in | the wan' | ton green^ (ii. i- 99)- 

Here the second foot is a spondee, the first and third are 

The principle which limits all variations in blank verse is 
that the general character of the rhythm must not be 
stroyed. Too many pyrrhics or spondees would make the 
verse altogether too light or too heavy. As a rule, therefore, 
we do not find more than six or less than three strewed 
syllables in a line, nor more than three unstressed syllables 
together. An excess of spondees occurs in solemn passages, 
as in Theseus’ judicial address — 

What' sa/ ) you', Her' | mia? be 1 advised', 1 fair' maid' (i. x. 46 )'. 

or in Hermia’s declaration. 

So' will 1 r grow', 1 so' live', | so' die', | my lord' (i. 1 . 79)- 

When the third foot is a pyrrhic, the rest of the line is 
divided into two equal parts, and thus a markedly antithetic 
rhythm is readily produced, as in 

Your biis- | kin’d mis- | tress and | your wir- ) rior 16ve (ii. i. 7*)- 
By pa' I ved foun' ( tain or [ by rush' ( y brook' (ii. i. 84 )- 

A pyrrhic is very common in the last foot, where the pause 
to some extent supplies the place of a stress. 



(ii) Trochee. Frequently the normal order of non-stress 
and stress is inverted, that is to say, a trochee replaces the 
iamb. This substitution is made most easily after a pause, 
and therefore it is by far the most common in the first foot, 
and next to that in the third and fourth, after the mid-line 
pause. It is rare in the second and fifth feet. 

ist/oot. Chant ing | faint' hymns' | to the ) cold' fruit' | less moon' 

(i. I. 73). 

2nd foot. As wild' | geese' that j the creep' 1 ing fowl' [ er eye' 

(iii. 2. 2o). 

yd foot. With feign' | ing voice' | vcr'ses [ of feign' ) ing love' 

(i. 1. 30- 

4M foot. Met' we 1 on hill’ 1 or dale', ) for'est ) or mead' (ii. i. 83). 

Our play affords no instance of a trochee in the fifth foot. 

Two trochees often occur in one line, but rarely in succes- 
sion. More than two would tend to obscure the iambic 
character of the rhythm. 

There'forc | the winds’, | pip'ing | to us' | in vain' (ii. i. 88). 

(iii) Trisyllabic Feet. In his later blank verse, Shake- 
speare frequently allows the stress to carry with it two un- 
stressed syllables instead of one only; that is, he substitutes 
an anapaest for the iamb. In such cases the unstressed 
syllables are always kept as short in quantity as possible. 
Thus, in Macbeth — 

What a haste' | looks through' ) his eyes'. [ So' should | he' look 

(i. 2. 46). 

Thoughts spe' | cttlaiive' | their un' 1 sure hopes' ) relate' (v. 4. 19). 

Possibly a dactyl or even a tribrach (three unstressed syllables) 
may occasionally be used in the same way. 

It should be noted that in many cases it must be a matter 
of choice whether we scan a line by means of such a foot, or 
by elision. Thus in the second line given from Macbeth^ we 
might scan, ‘Thoughts spdc | ulative’ (§ 8 (ii) {a ) ). But in the 
later plays there is a certain percentage of cases which no 
elision or slurring will satisfactorily account for, and once the 
principle of trisyllabic feet is admitted, it becomes a matter 
of opinion how far it should be extended. The present play 
does not appear to me to afford any clear instance of a tri- 
syllabic foot. Kpossible instance is — 

I know ) a bank | whfire ihC wild | thyme blows (ii. i. 249). 

But see the note on this line, together with § 8 (v). 

§ 13 . Feminine Rhythm. — Sometimes an extra-metrical 
unstressed syllable is added after the stress, before a pause. 



The result is known as feminine rhythm. It is most common 
at the end of the line, thus — 

Sees He | lens beau | ty in ] a brow | of E (gypt) (v. i. ii). 

The po 1 el’s eye, | in a | fine fren 1 zy rol(ling) (v. 1. 12). 

In the larger part of our play, feminine endings are 
markedly rare. In two passages, however, they occur with 
comparative frequency. These are iii. 2. 177-343, and v. i. 
1-105. Possibly this may be a sign that these passages were 
revised or rewritten at a later date than the rest of the play ; 
but, in iii. 2. 177-343 at least, the irregularity may be 
accounted for by the excitement of the scene. When dis- 
syllables which admit of contraction occur at the end of a 
line, and there is an alternative between contraction and a 
feminine rhythm, the latter appears in so early a play to be 
the preferable mode of reading. 

Have with | our needles [neeld^ \ crea [ ted both ] one flow(er) 

(iii. 2. 204). 

Feminine rhythm in the middle of the line is very rare in 
the play. We have only two instances — 

After and foot. That is, [ the mad(man): | the lo \ ver, all | as fran(lic) 

(v. I. 10). 

After 3rd foot. Not for | thy fair | y king(dom). [ Fairies, j away! 

(ii. I. 144). 

§14. Monosyllabic Feet. — Occasionally a line is mutilated 
by the omission of the unstressed syllable of one foot. The 
place of this syllable may generally be considered to be filled 
up by a g:esture or dramatic pause. Like all other irregu- 
larities, this is rare in our play. It occurs in — 

— Ho, 1 ho, ho! 1 Coward, | why comest [ thou not? (iii. 2. 421), 

where the laugh may be taken as a rough metrical equivalent 
for two whole feet ; in — 

For part | ing us, | — O, | is all I forgot? (iii. 2. 201), 

where the third foot is filled out with a sob: and apparently 
m — 

Mel j ted as | the snow, | seems to [ me now (iv. 1. 163) ; 
but probably this line is corrupt (cf. note ad /oc.). 

.§ * 5 « Long and Short Lines. — Lines are sometimes found 

with more or less than the normal five feet. 

Six-foot lines, sometimes called Alexandrines^ occur twice 
in the play. 

Therefore | be out | of hope, | of ques j tion, | of doubt (iii. 2. 279). 
cincou I pie in | the wes I tern val I ley; let I them go (iv. i. 104). 
(M 286 ) \ J* \ ^ ^ 



There are also a few shorter lines of various lengths. Here, 
too, a pause, or something of the kind, may often be regarded 
as filling up the gap. 

Two feet. And kill | me too (iii. 2. 49). 

Three feet. Takes it | in might. | not mer(it) (v. 1. 92). 

Tour feet. I know | a bank 1 where the wild | thyme blows 

(ii. I. 249). 

Short addresses, commands, and ejaculations can be treated 
in plays where they abound as extra-metrical altogether. 

On the three four-foot lines ii. 1. 14, 42; iii. 2. 100, cf. § 16. 

In iv. I. 189, 190 we have — 

//e/. Mine own, and not mine own. 

Dem. Are you sure 

That we're awake. It seems to me. 

Here the irregularities must be explained, if the text is 
correct, as due to the confusion of a man yet only half- 

§ 16. Varieties of Pause.— The typical heroic line has a 
well-marked pause at the end, and a less-well-marked one 
in [the middle, after the second or sometimes the third foot. 
I'hese are of course sense pauses, as well as metrical pauses. 
Shakespeare modifies this original type in two principal 
ways — 

(i) He varies the mid-line pause at will, omitting it altogether, 
or making it as slight as possible, or doubling it, or putting it 
after the first or fourth foot, or in the middle of a foot. 

[N.B. — Some writers call the mid-line pause a This is, of 

course, hopelessly incorrect. The classical caesura was a slight pause 
in the middle and not at the end of a foot.] 

(ii) He reduces the importance of the end-line pause, which 
can never altogether disappear, by putting the two separated 
lines in close syntactical connection. Such a connection is 
called an enjambement^ and the first of the two lines is said to 
be run on^ as opposed to end-stopped. Consider, for instance, 
V. 1. 12-17 — 

The poet’s eye. in a fine frenzy rolling, 

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; 

And as imagination bodies forth 
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen 
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing 
A local habitation and a name. 

Here the last line and the first two are end-slopped, the 
third, fourth, and fifth run on. Of course it is largely a matter 
of degree; the enjambement is more or less marked, according 



as it IS affected by various conditions, the weight of the 
syntactical parts separated, the closeness of the syntactical 
connection, the presence of feminine rhythm, and the like. 
The effect of this redistribution of pauses is to destroy the 
independence of the single line by making it a member of an 
harmoniously-arranged group, a period or verse-paragraph. 
Through this a less monotonous rhythm becomes possible. 

The variety of the pauses is much greater in the later than 
in the earlier plays. In A Midsum 7 ner-Night's Dream there 
are comparatively few enjambements, and where there is a 
mid-line pause, it generally follows the second or third foot. 
In the later plays Shakespeare preferred to end a speech in 
the middle rather than at the end of a line. In our play, this 
is only done thirty-two times. In the matter of pauses, as in 
that of feminine rhythm, iii. 2. 177-343 and v. i. 1-105 show 
signs of later work than the rest of the play. 

In this and other early plays we get a special use of end- 
stopped lines, in which a rapid dialogue is carried on, by 
each speaker confining what he has to say within the limits 
of a single line. This is the stichomuthia of Greek tragedy, 
and, whether rhymed or unrhymed, has a lyrical antiphonic 
effhet. See e.g. i. r. 136-140, 194-201 ; ii. 2. 84-87. 

§ 17. Rhyme.' — About a third of A Midsummer- Night's 
Dreatn is written in rhymed verse. This large proportion is 
no doubt due to the influence of the masque, a species of 
drama to which the play has many affinities (cf. Introduc- 
tion, pp. 13, 18). More than one kind of rhymed verse is 

(i) The commonest is the rhytned heroicy composed, like 
blank verse, of decasyllable iambic lines, but with the last 
accented syllables rhyming. This is scattered about in single 
couplets and longer passages amongst the blank verse, and 
it is not always possible in this play, as it usually is with the 
far rarer rhymed verse of later plays, to assign a definite 
reason for its use in any given place. But it appears to be 
used — 

(«) In single couplets to finish off a scene or speech, or 
section of a speech, of blank verse. Rhyme was used by 
Shakespeare for this purpose almost to the end of his career. 
Probably it pleased the actors, who liked an effective ‘curtain’, 
and it may even have served to call attention to the ‘cues’- 

^* 5 ^ J. Heuser, Der ConpUtreim in S/uxkespeare's Dramen. {Shakes/ eart- 
Jahrbuch^ vols. xxviii. p. 177; xxix.-xxx. p. 335.) 


As examples, see v. i. 104, 105; v, i. 353 > 354 - Sometimes 
two or three successive couplets are so used. 

In markedly lyrical or emotional passages. Thus m 
act i. sc. I, the entry of Helen, at 1 . 180, coincides with a 
change from blank verse to rhyme, and so with the more 
passionate lovc-scenes tiiroughout. 

In ii. I. 2b», rucK - caps a imc .... 

ing rhyme. So Titania ‘ caps* herself in 111. l. 181. 

Heroic rhyme is generally arranged in couplets, but in this 
play we often get (i) triplets, (2) quatrains or 

ie^ iii. I. 177-181; ii. 2. 35-40; 111. 2. 122-127), and (3) 

Uftains or quatrains followed by clinching couplets {e.g. 111. 
I. 82-87: iii. 2. 442-447). In iii. I. 1 51-160 the same rhyme 

is rcDCAted ten times. \ • 

Many of the variations described in §§ 7-16 occur also in 

heroic rhyme. Thus we have feminine rhymes ; e.g.— 

Were the world mine, Demetrius being ba(ted). 

The rest I Id give to be to you transla(ted) (1. 1. X 90 - * 9 ')- 

In three passages, all spoken by Puck, we get a couplet 
made up of a four-foot and a five-foot line: e.g. 

1 must 1 go seek ] some dew | drops here 

And hang I a pearl 1 in ev | ery cows | lip s ear (11. 1. M. * 5 )- 

Cf. also ii. I. 42, 43; 2. 100, 101. 

(ii) Much of the speech of the fairies, especially the enchant 
ments, consists of short rhyming lines of various length, m a 
trochaic rhythm. T hus — 

O'ver I hiir, 1 o'ver 1 dale', _ 

Thor'ough | bush', \ thor'ough | brier*. 

O'ver I park', I o'ver pale', ^ 

Thorough 1 flood', 1 thorough 1 fire , 
r do 1 wan'der ] ev'ery 1 where , 

Swift'er I than' the I moon'es | sphere ; 

And' I I ser>'e' the I fai'ry 1 queen', 

To dew* 1 her orbs*^ 1 upon' \ the gwn . 

The cows* 1 lips tall' 1 her pens' | ioners be': 

In' their 1 gold' coats | spots' you | see ; 

Those' be 1 ru'bies | fai'ry I fa’vours, , 

In' those 1 freck'les | Uve^ their | sa'vours (u. x. a-iSh 

This metre is specially used by Shakespeare (^. I*' 
heth) for the speeches of supernatural beings. It should oc 

noted that 



{a) lambic lines (e.£'. ii. i. 9, 10 above) are intermingled with 
the trochaic ones, for the sake of variety. 

{d) The final trochee is often caialectic\ that is, the un- 
stressed syllable is wanting. . 

The trochaic metre is commonly a four-foot one. Puck’s 
speech in iii. 2. 448-463 begins with one-foot, two-foot, and 
three-foot lines, and ends with a long doggerel line — 

The man' ) shall have' 1 his mare' ] again', 1 and all' I shall' be | well'. 

Such doggerel lines are common in the earliest comedies, 
but soon disappear. 

(iii) When songs are introduced, as in ii. 2. 9-24; iii. i. 1 14 “ 
122, they are of course in various rhymed lyric metres. 

§ 18. The Interlude.— The metres of the interlude, intro- 
duced into act i. sc. 2, act iii. sc. i, act v. sc. i, require 
separate mention. 

They are — 

(i) Rhymed heroics, in couplets, quatrains, or sextains. 

(ii) Two-foot and three-foot iambics (v. i. 266-277, 285— 
296, 3*2-335). 

(iii) Six-foot iambics (iii. i. 82-85). 

The latter two metres appear to be in parody of the cruder 
pre-Shakespearian tragedies. In the same spirit the heroic 
verse is made stiff and awkward. 1 1 is, of course, dramatically 
desirable to differentiate the style of the interlude from that 
of the rest of the play. 

§19. Prose.* — Shakespeare uses prose in his earlier plays 
chiefly for comedy and for the dialogue of vulgar characters. 
Where prose and verse are mingled, it is generally to point a 
contrast between the persons speaking. Thus in iii. i. 110- 
185, and in iv. i. 43, Bottom speaks in prose, Titania in 
verse. The clowns speak throughout in prose, firstly because 
they are clowns, and secondly to provide a background for 
the interlude. For the sake of a similar background, even 
Theseus and the wedding company speak in prose in v. i. 
108-346, returning to the statelier blank verse when the 
Bergomask dance is over. 

§20. Metre as an Evidence of Date. — Shakespeare’s i**®**" 
ner of writing was undergoing constant modification through- 
out his life, and therefore the evidence of style, and especially 
of metre, helps in some degree to determine the respective 

>Cf. Delius. Die Prose in Shakespearis Dramtn \,Shakitptare-J<thrbucK^ 

vol. V. p. 337). 



dates of the plays. As has been pointed out from lime to 
time in this essay, the metre of yi ^Iidsutufuer-Ntghi s Dream 
is that of an early play. As compared with the later ones, 
it has few contractions (§ 8 ), feminine rhythms (§ 13), or en- 
jambements (§ 1 6). Lines of irregular length are r^re (§§ * 4 ^ J 5 )» 
and trisyllabic feet arc practically absent (§ 1 2 (iii) ). The free 
use of rliymc (§ 17)1 which is gencrcilly a mark of early work> 
docs not prove much here, because Shakespeare would 
probably at any time in his life have used rhyme in writing 
what is practically a masque. On the other hand, the comic 
doggerel, which marks the very earliest comedies, is absent. 

Many attempts have been made to fix the dates of the 
plays more precisely on metrical grounds, by estimating the 
prevalence of particular metrical characteristics in each, m 
numerical terms. The figures thus obtained, and the tests 
based upon them, seem to me so very misleading, that 1 have 
not thought it worth while to give any of them here. 

>Tlie studeiu who wishes to pursue the matter may be referred to KOmg, 
Der Fers in Shaks/>er^s Dranten, ch. vii., to H. Conrad s paper m the t.-erman 
Sh-nkespeare Society’s ynhrbuch, vol. xxxi , and to an c^y by the Kev. h . O. 
Flcay in Inglcby*s Shaktsfitart^ tht Man ami the Bock^ pari ii. (t8Bt)» whiC0 
contains Mr. Flcay's latest speculations on the subject 


abridgment (v. i. 39), pastime. 

Cf. note ad loc. 

aby (iii. 2. 175. 335), pay for, the 
M.E. abyen, A.S. dbycgan. This 
word, ofienspelt, as here in Q2 F i. 
abide, must be distinguished from 
abide in the sense of ‘ await ’ , which 
is the M.E. abidtn, A.S. dbidan. 

adamant (ii. 1. 195). the lode- 
stone, a stone possessed of mag- 
netic properties. The word is de- 
rived from the Gk. ‘un- 
conquerable* («-, not, to 

lame), and was originally applied 
to the diamond and other hard 
stones. It was probably trans- 
ferred to the lodestone on account 
of its unconquerable attraction for 
iron. Diamond is a corruption of 
the same word. 

admirable (v. i. 27). wonderful, 
in the sense of the Lat. admirari. 

after-Bupper (v. x. 34), dessert. 
Cf. note ad loc. 

aggravate (i. 2. 70), used by 
Bottom for ‘soften*, ‘diminish’; 
but the normal sense in Shake- 
speare is the exactly opposite one 
of ‘intensify’, ‘exaggerate*. Cf. 
Rich. II., i. j. 43 — 

"the more to at'gravate the note, 
wlih a foul traitor's name stuff 1 thy throat 

And Edxvard ///, , iL i. 24— 

** Jhftt sin doth ten times a^ravate itself, 
That IS comuiUted In an holy place'*. 

amiable (iv. i. 2). lovable, not 
confin^ by Shakespeare, as by us, 
toqualitiesofcharacter and temper. 

an (i. 2. 64, &c.), a shortened 
form of and in the special sense of 
‘if. The spelling an was rarely 
^edinShakespeare*stime. Except 
in an’t it occurs only once in F i ; 

but modern editors have conveni- 
ently appropriated it to the con- 
ditional sense of the word. And 
or an is often strengthened, as in 
ii. 2. 153; iii. 2. 78. by the addition 
of if. In i. 2. 86 Bottom uses 

an 'twere in the sense of 'as if it 


anon (hi. 2. 18), at once, the 
A.S. on dn. in one (moment). 

antic (V. I. 3). strange, fantas- 
tic. Murray derives the word from 

the Italian antico, a cavern adorned 
with grotesques ; others regard it 
as identical with antique. In any 
case the spelling of the two words 
was not distinguished by the Eliza- 
bethans ; in the present passage 
Q X has antique, Q 2 F x anticke. 

antipodee (iii. 2. 55), dwellers 
on the other side of the earth; from 
Gk. i»T/, over against, ntut, a fool. 
The use of the word to denote the 
other side of the earth itself is of 
course incorrect. 

approve (ii. 2. 68), try, test. 

apricock (iii. i. i 5 o>* apricot. 
Both forms are from the Portu- 
guese albricoque, the Elizabethan 
one directly, the modern one 
through the French abricot. The 
early history of the word is curious; 
the Portuguese borrowed it. from 
the Arabic al barqtlq, of which al 

is merely the definite article, 
i<zr^rf^=Med. Gk. This 

in its turn came from the Latin 
praecoquus ox praecox, ‘ early npe . 

argument (iii. 2. 242), subject; 
here in the sense of 'subject for 

ay me (i. 1. X3a)> alas, woe is 
me; the 0 #F. aytnt^ ItAl. (znirrti^ 




Span, ay de mi, Gk. The me 

is here, like the Gk. a dative. 

barm (ii. i. 38), yeast. 

bate (i. i. 190). except; a muti- 
lated form of abate, which means 
literally ‘ beat down", from the L. L. 

bay (iv. i. no), hunt with dogs, 
lit. bark at, a mutilated fonn of 
abay, from O. F. aboier, Lat. ad, 
at, baubari, bark. We speak of 
a liunt 'baying', and of a stag 'at 
bay’, the Fr. attx abois. 

be-, a forn) of by. used as a pre- 
hx, intensifies or otherwise modi- 
fies, often very slightly, the word 
to which it is joined. Thus in 
belike (i. r. 130), ' very likely', it 
gives the sense of ' fully 'tho- 
roughly'. Often it simply forms 
a transitive verb, as in beteem <i. 
I. 131), bebowls (V. I. 358). howls 
at. beehrew (v. i. 280). 

beabrew (iii. 2. 204), curse, lit. 
bring evil upon; from ^ir-f-M.E. 
shrtwe, evil. 

beteem (i. 1. 131), yield, supply; 
from bey teem, think fit, connected 
with X>\x\.c\\betamert, Germ, xiemen, 
Eng. seemly. Thus the primary 
sense of beteem \% 'allow', 'suffer . 
Cf. Hamlet, i. a. 141 — 

he might not beteem the wlnd$ o^ 

Visit her face too roughly'*. 

But the transition from 'allow' to 
‘ .allow to’ is a slight one ; and may 
be helped by an entirely different 
sense of teem. viz. 'pour out’, 
’empty’, from Scand. tom, empty. 

bootleaa (ii. r. 37, 233), in vain; 
from A.S. bdt, profit. 

bottle (iv. I. 30), a bundle (of 
hay); from O.F*. hotel, dim. of 
botte, bundle. Cf. note ad loc. 

Bottom, a weaver’s term for the 
reel, of thread, which is the bottom 
or base on which the thread is 
wound. Cf. Taming of the Shrno. 
iv. 3. 138: " l>eat me to death with 
a bottom of brown thread”. 

brief (v, 1. 42), list; from Fr. 
bref, I^at. brex-e, short. A brief \% 
therefore literally a short hand-list 
or summary. 

broacb Iv. i. 146). pierce; from 
M.E. broche, a sharp instrument, 
the O. F. broche or spit. 

bully (iii. I. 7; iv. 2. 18), a 
colloquial term of affection or re- 
spect, especially in low life, chiefly 
implying good fellowship; said to 
be connected with the Germ, buhle, 
Dutch boel, lover. 

canker (ii. 2. 3), a worm i' the 
bud. The canker-blosaom of 
iii. 2. 282 may either be. (1) a 
synonym for canker, or (2) the 
flower of the dog-rose. Cf. note 
ad loc. 

cbeer (iii. 2. 96). countenance. 

ebidin^ (iv. I. 113). noise. Cf. 
Othello, ii. i. 12; " The chidden 
billow seems to pelt the clouds". 

cbildlng (ii. i. Z12), bearing 
children, fruitful. Cf. Fairfax’s 
Tasso, xviii. 26— 

'* All hiiiuUed pl«nts beside (even in his sight) 

ChiUled An hundred nymphs* so grent, so 

So the 'hen and chickens’ daisy 
is sometimes called the childing 

cbougb(iii. a. 21). jackdaw. Cf. 
note ad loc. 

close (iii. a. 7), secret. 

coil (iii. 2. 339), disturbance; 
said to be connected with the Gael. 
goH. rage, battle. Cf. Much Ado, 
V. 2. 98: "Yonder’s old coil at 
home”. The "mortal coil" of 
Hamlet, iii. i. 67. may have either 
this sense, or that of something 
wrapped round, like a coil of rope. 

collied (i. i. 145), blackened 
with coal, darkened. The word 
recurs in the F 1 of Othello, ii. 3. 
206 — 

And pAsslon» hAving my best judgment 


Assays to leAd the wsy* . 

companion (i. 1. 15). in the con* 
temptuous sense of our ' fellow 



con (i. 2. 86), get to know ; the 
M.E. cunnien, examine, A.S. cun- 
nian, a desiderative form of cun- 
nan, to know. 

condole (i. 2. 21, 33), lament, 
not only in the modem limited 
sense of lamenting in sympathy 
with another. Shakespeare uses 
the word in burlesque here, and in 
Henry K, ii. i. 133, where Pistol 
says; ' ' Let us condole the knight ' ’ : 
but condolement is used seriously 
in Hamlet, i. 2. 93. 

courteous (iv. 2. 24). used 
colloquially, like ‘brave’, toexpress 

coy, vb. (iv. I. 2), caress. Cf. 
Warner, Albion s England, vi. 30 — 

" And while she coys his sooty cheeks, or 
curU hU sweaty cop**. 

crab (ii. x. 48), crab-apple. 

crazed (i. x. 92), cracked, flawed; 
connected with the Fr. /rrarcr. Cf. 
Lyly, Euphues (ed. Arber), p. 58: 

“ the glass once erased, will with 
the least clap be cracked”. 

cry (iv. I. x2x), the noise of 
hounds ; and so used for a pack of 
hounds, as in CffrsWanur, iii. 3. ixo: 
"yon common cry of curs”; or a 
company of anything else, as in 
Hamlet, iii. 2. 289: "a cry of 

cue (iii. I. 66, &c. ), the catch- 
word by which an actor knows his 
turn to speqk. The derivation of 
the word is uncertain, but it is pro- 
bably from the Fr. queue, the ' tail ’ 
or tag-end of a speech. 

darkling (ii. 2. 86), in the dark. 
Cf. Lear, i. 4. 237: "So, out went 
the candle, and we were left dark- 

dead (iii. 2. 57), deadly; cf. 
Richard II., iv. i. 10: "that dead 
time when Gloucester’s death was 
plotted ”. 

defect (iii. x. 35), Bottom's 
mistake for effect. 

dewlap (ii. x. 50). a fold of flesh 

on the throat ; so dewlapped (iv. 

I- 127)- ^ . 

disfigure (»«• i- 53)* Quinces 
mistake for figure, ' represent . 

distemperature (ii. i. 106). dis- 
order of the weather. Cf. note ad 

dowager (i. i- S* *57)» ^ 
with a jointure or dowage, charged 
on an estate. Dowage is from the 
Fr. douer, Lat. dotare, endow. -Hthe 
termination age, Lat. -aticum. 
dulcet (ii. i. iS*)- sweet. 

eglantine (ii- ^S^)' sweet- 
brier. Cf. note ad loc. 

eke (hi. i- 84). also. Only used 
by Shakespeare in burlesque. It 
is connected with the verb eke, 
augment, increase. 

elf (ii. J- 17-. ii- S)- a small 
supernatural being, the Ger. alb. 

exposition (iv. i. 3^)* Bottom s 
mistake for disposition. 

eyne (i. i- 242, &c.), a pi u ml 
form of eye, used generally for the 
sake of rhyme. The plural ending 
.necsx-en, the A.S. -an, is retained 
in such words as children, oxen, 
kine, &c. 

fair (i. x. 181), fairness, beauty; 
for the use of the noun cf. As You 
Like It, iii. 2. 81, 82 — 

Let no fair be kept in mind 
But the fair of Rosalina 

fairy (ii. i- 8, &c.). originally a 
trisyllable , ox faery, the Fr. 
fierie, an abstract noun derived 
from fie, a fay, the L. L- Ma , 
(1) ‘fairy land’ or ‘the fairy folk 
or ‘ enchantment'; (2) a fairy or 
• fay’ ; (3) belonging to a fairy, an 


fantasy (i. 32» S)* 

fancy (i. i- W 

a corrupt form of the same word 
(i) imagination; (2) love, esj^cially 
the imaginative love of youth. 

favour, (I) good-will, gracious- 
n^r(2) (i. X- x86) countenance. 



looks, apparently as expressive of 
rraciousness, though ‘ill-favoured’ 
came to be also used ; (3)(ii. i- 12; 
IV. 1. 46) a flower, riband, or other 
token of good-will, given by a gra- 
cious l.idy. 

fell, subst. (v. 1. 220), skin. Cf. 
note ad loc. 

fell. adj. (ii. i. 20; v. i. 274). 
angry, cruel. 

flewed (iv. i- 1*7)- Flews are 
the overhanging chaps of a hound. 

Fond (ii. 1. 266, &c.l. (1) lender; 
(2) foolish. In ii. 2. 88; iii. 2. 
*14- 3*7' both meanings apix^ar 
to be in Shakespeare's mind. 

gaud (i. I. 33: iv. 1. 164). toy, 
trinket, jewel ; from I^it. ^audium, 
delight, used in L. L. for an orna- 

gleek (iii. r. 132), gibe, chaff; 
originally it appears to have meant 
‘trick’, 'beguile', and to be con- 
nected with tlie A.S. geldcan, play. 

goblin (iii. 2. 399). a tricksy 
spirit; from O. F. f^obetin, L.L. 
gobelinus, dim. of c^alus, the Cik. 

g088ip(ii. 1 47).originallyagod- 
mother, one who is sib or ’ related ’ 
in God ; and then ' a talkative per- 
son'. So too the verb in ii. i. 125. 

grain (i. 2. 8t), the red dye of 
the kermes or coccus insect, called 
from its appearance granum or 
seed. This was a particularly last- 
ing dye. and so tn grain came 
to mean 'du;*able’, 'permanent'. 
Thus Olivia of her complexion in 
Ttvel/th Night, i. 5. 253: " 'Tis in 
grain, sir, 't will endure wind and 
weather". In the present passage 
we have the pc imary sense, “purple 
in grain" 'dyed purple with 

griffin (ii. 232). a fabulous 
monster, described by Sir John 
Mandcville as having the hea<l of 
an eagle and the body of a lion. 
The name comes through the Lat. 

gryphus. from theGk. a crea- 

ture with a hooked beak. 

grisly (v. t. 138). terrible. 

harbinger (iii. 2. 380), fore- 
runner; M.E. herbergeour, O.F. 
herberger, one who provided lodg- 
ings for a man of rank. 

henchman (ii. i. 121). a per- 
sonal attendant or page ; probably 
derived from A. S. hengslman, 
horseman. The henchmen were a 
regular part of the English royal 
household from the time of Henry 
VI. to that of Henry VIII. 

hight (v. 1. 138). is called. Ac- 
cording to Skeat it is the only 
English verb with a passive sense. 

It is only used by Shakespniare in 

humour (i. 2. 21). disposition. 
I'he four chief types of disposition, 
the sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, 
melancholic, were supposed to 
dejx:nd on the preponderance of 
various humours in the blood. 

immediately (i. 1. 45), precisely, 

impeach (ii. 1. 214), lay open to 
reproach. Cf. Richard II., i. 1. 
189: “Shall l...with pale beggar- 
fear impeach my height”. From 
the Fr. emthher, Lat. ivipcdicart, 
catch by tlio foot. 

inju^ (ii. I. 147). insult. So 
too injurious (lii. 2. 195), insult- 

intend (iii. 2. 333). offer; in the 
sense of the Lat. intendcrc, lit. 
hold out. 

interlude (i. 2. 5; v. i. 154). 
originally an entertainment or 
Indus, l^tweon (the Lat. inter) 
the courses of a Ixanquct or stages 
of a festival ; and so a dramatic 
moral or comedy, since such were 
often played on such occasions. 
Hero, for instance. The Interlude 
oj Fyramus and Thishe is played 
' Ix't ween our after-supper and bed- 
time’ (v. I. 34). 



Jill (iii. 2. 461), a shortened form 
of Julia or Juliana, 
jole (iii. 2. 338}, jowl or jaw. 

javenal (iii. i. 97), youth; an 
affected term, ridiculed by Shake- 
speare here and in Love i Labour ' s 
Lost, i. 2. x2-i6— 

Moth. Why tender juvenalt why tender 

Armttch. I spoke it. tender Juvenal, as a 
conf^ent epitheton appertauiing' to thy 
youn^ days, which we may nominate tender. 

Shakespeare seems to connect the 
word with juvenis, but Greene and 
Meres apply it to Nash in the sense 
of ‘satirist’, from the Roman poet 
so named. 

knot-giasB (iii. 2. 329), a low- 
growing kind of buckwheat. Cf. 
note ad loc. 

lakiu (iii. I. 14). In the phrase 
ierlakon or byrlakin, a corruption 
of Madikin’ or ‘little lady', the 
Virgin Mary. 

latch (iii. 2. 36), anoint, moisten; 
connected by Skeat with leak and 
A.S. leccan, to wet. Shakespeare 
also uses another latch, derived 
frorn the A.S. laeccan, to catch; 
e.g. in Macbeth, iv. 3. 195 — 

— . •• But 1 have words 

I *ould be howl'd out in the desert air. 
Where hearing should not latch them”, 

leviathaxi (ii. x. 174), a whale, 
general interpretation of the 
Hebrew livydthdn or ' rhonster'. 

load^Btax (i. i. 183), or lode- 
star, the pole-star, which ‘leads', 
‘guid^’, or perhaps ‘attracts the 
attention of’ the sailor, as the load- 
stone or magnet leads or attracts 
iron. The pole-star is also called 
and we may compare 
Milton’s L Allegro, 80— 

" perhaps some beauty lies 

1 he cynosure of neighbouring eyes 

lob (ii. I, 16), clown, lout ; con- 
nected with ■ lubber ’ and the Welsh 
Uob. dolt. 

Uargeut (ii. i. 85), margin. 
Biaxry (i. 2, xi), an exclamation 

denoting indignation, scorn, or 
vehement assertion ; originally an 
invocation of the Virgin Mary, of 
whose name it is a corruption. 

marshal (ii. 2. 123). an officer 
of court, an usher who leads 
the way to the presence of : In. 
a groom; the O. F. marcschal, 
O.H.G. marescalk, from marah. 
a \\OTse-¥sculh, a ser\’ant. 

masque (v. i. 32). also spelt 
mask : an entertainment in which 
singing, dancing, and acting were 
combined ; probably so called be- 
cause the performers wore masks 
or vizards. 

mean (v. i. 311). complain, 
the M.E. mene, still used m the 
Scotch legal formula: “To the 
Lords of council and session 
humbly means and shows your 

mechanical, subst. (iii. 2- 9)' 

mew (i. I. 71). cage up. The 
subsi.mew=(i) the moulting of a 
hawk’s feathers, from "LaK. muiare, 
to change; (2) the cage in which 
this process took place, 
mimic (iii. 2. 19). actor. 

minimus (iii. 2. 329). smallest 
of size. It is the Lat. superlative, 
very small. Milton uses an Angli- 
cized form in Paradise Lost, vii. 
482: “minims of nature’’. 

mi8graffed(i. 1. 137). 

but grajf is a more correct form ol 
the verb than gra ft. 1 1 is from the 
O. Fr. gra^, a slip. 

misprise (iii. 2. 74). mistake; 
from the O.Fr. mesprendre 
minus+prehendere, to take amiss. 
So too misprision (i«. 2. 90). 

momentany (i. i* *43)> moment- 
ary; from Lat. momentaneus. 

morris (ii. i- 98). in the phrase 
‘ nine men’s morns ; the name o» 
a game, probably a corruption ol 
the Fr- frur<aux, niernls. Cf. note 
ad loc. 



mural (v. i. 204), an affected I 
term for ‘ wall'. 

murrion {ii. i. 97), pestilence: 
the L. L. rnorina, from mori. to 

musk-rose (ii. i. 252; ii. 2. 3: 
iv. 1. 3), a large single rose, the 
Rasa moschata. Cf. note on ii. i. 

neaf (iv. i. 18), or neif. fist; of 
Scand. origin, the Icel. hnefi ; con- 
nected with Gk. to crook, 

and therefore meaning lit. ‘closed 
hand’. Cf. 2 Henry IV., ii. 4. 
200: "Sweet knight. I kiss thy 

neeze (ii. i. 56). a variant form 
of sneete. just as we have both 
lightly and slightly, quinsy and 

nole (iii. 2. 17), head; probably 
a form of noddle, which ts a dim. 
of knod, a variant form of knot. 

oes (iii. 2. 188). spangles, circles 
like the letter O. Cf. note ad loc. 

orange-tawny (i. 2. 81; iii. i. 

1 13), dark-yellow: tawny '\%tann<, 

ounce (ii. 2. 30), a species of 
panther, used for hunting deer, 
ousel (iii. I. 1 12). a blackbird, 
owe (ii. 2. 79), possess, a variant 
form of own (ow-e-n). 

pageant (iii. 2. 114). spectacle: 
from U. L. pagina, scaffold (/a«- 
gere, fasten together): originally 
applied to the movable wooden 
scaffolds on which the mysteries or 
miracle-plays were shown; thence 
to dramatic and pseudo-dramatic 
performances themselves. 

paragon (iv. 2. 13). model, 
pattern; from Span, para con, in 
comparison with, and thus ulti- 
mately from three Latin pre- 
positions. pro, ad [zzpara), cum. 
pard (ii. 2. 31), leopard. 

parlous (iii- i- 12), a corrupt 
pronunciation of perilous. Cf. 
Essay on Metre, § 8 (ii) (c), 

passing (ii. i. 20), extremely; 
used, like 'exceeding', as asuper- 

pat (iii. I. 2; V. 1. 189), exactly, 
precisely, to the point. 

patch (iii. 2. 9). clown, foolj 
either from the patched or motley 
dress of the professional fool. Cf. 
The Tempest, iii. 2. 71: "What a 
pied ninny’s this! thou scurvy 
patch”; or from the Ital. patto, 
connected with l^t. fatuus, fool- 
ish. The ■ patched fool’ of iv. i. 
205 favours the first explanation. 

patent (i. i. 80), privilege; so 
called from the royal warrant or 
open letter (leitres patentes) in 
which privileges were conferred. 

pelting (ii. i- 9t). petty, insigni- 
ficant; perhaps from pelt ox peltry 
(Lat. pellis), skin; and thus akin 
to paltry, from Scand. rags. 
Cf. Lear, ii. 3. 18: " poor pelting 
villages”, and Richard II., ii- x. 
60; " a tenement or pelting farm". 

pensioner (ii. x. xo), one who 
receives a pension or pwiodical 
payment, the Lat. pensio. from 
pendere, to pay. lit. to weigh out. 
Elizal>eth had a corps of young 
nobles and others to attend her 
under the style of Pensioners. 
They were fifty in number, with a 
gay uniform and gilt halberda 

period (v. 1. 96), full stop, 
pert (i. 1. 13), lively, sprightly. 

point. (1) (i. 2. 8; ii. 2. 119), 
the summit of perfection ; (a) (v. 
I. 18), a stop. ^ 

prefer (iv. 2. 34). either 'choow 
or •offer*, as in Julius ui* 

I. 28; " let him... prefer his suit to 

Ccesar”. Cf. note ad loc. 
present (iii. a. 14). act. 
prologue (v. i. 106, 119). th® 
introduction to a play ; from the 
(wf. before, xh^t. speech) 
01 a Greek drama, viz. the opening 



scene, in which the audience were 
regularly initialed into the situation 
of the characters. 

proper (i. 2. 74), fine, 
properties (i. 2. 90), a techni- 
cal term for furniture and other 
articles used on the stage. The 
accounts of the churchwardens at 
Bassingborne for the performance 
of a play of St. George as early as 
1511 include an item “To the 
gamement-man for garnements 
and propyrts". 

purple in grain (i. 2. 81), purple 
dyed with the juice of the kermes 
insect. Cf. grain. 

quaint (ii. i. 99; ii, 2. 7), trim, 
neat; the French This sense 

is really due to a misunderstand- 
ing of coint, which is really the 
Lat. cognitus, well-known, but was 
taken for the i^ziX.comptus, adorned. 

quern (ii. i. 36), hand-mill; the 
A.S. cweorn. 

quire (ii. i. 55), or choir ; pro- 
perly a company of singers, the 
Gk. and so, as here, a com- 
pany of any kind. 

recorder (y, i. 123), a kind of 
sj^all flute. Cf. Chappell, Popular 
Music of the Olden Time, p. 246. 

recreant (iii. 2. 409), coward ; 
ht. one who recants his faith. 
Miscreant, which originally meant 
‘heretic’, came, by the same char- 
acteristic mediaeval confusion of 
ideas, to signify ‘scoundrel’. 

A ^®*^®'JU0U8e (ii. 2. 4), a bat; the 
A.S. hrlre-mus, from hriran, to 
agjtate. The name is thus equi- 
valent to flitter-mouse. 

re8pect(ii. i. 209. 224), consider- 
ation, opinion ; so too the verb in 
i. 1. 160 means consider, regard. 

rheumatic (ii. i. 105), due to 
a superfluity of humours (cf. s.v. 
humour), from Gk. 
humour^ to flow. The term 
included colds, catarrhs, &c., as 
well as what we call rheumatism. 

righi. (iii. 2. 302), regular, pro- 

roundel (ii- 2. 1}, a dance in a 
round or circle. 

rule (iii. 2. 5). in the phrase 
night-rule \ probably 'order. Cf. 
note ad loc. 

russet (iii- 2. 21) (i). grey, the 
colour of the scales on a russet 
apple: (2) reddish, as in Hamlef 
i. I. j66: “ But look, the morn, in 
russet mantle clad 

sanded (iv. i. ii7)- sandy 

scrip (i. 2. 3), a piece of writing: 
from Lat. scribere, to write. 

self (i. I. 113). in the compound 
self-affairs ; originally it was an 
adjective, meaning * same (con- 
nected with Germ, selbe), and was 
added to a repeated pronoun to 
identify it with that which went 
before. Thus ’’ He killed himself 
= ‘ • He killed him " (the same him). 
In time acquired the meaning 
of "one's own self”, and in com- 
pounds may denote any reference 
to oneself. Thnsself-afairs^oM s 
private affairs. 

sheen (ii. i- 29)- fairness; from 
M.E. adjective schene, fair, A.b. 
seine, allied to sceawian, to show. 
According to Skeal, the word is 
not connected with shine, which is 
the A.S. scinan. 

Shrewd. (I) (ii. I. 33). 
vous; (2) (iii. 2. 323). shrfV‘sh. It 
means literally ‘cursed , being the 
past part, of sehrewen, to curse, 
and may therefore be used in a 

variety of bad senses. The modern 
half-complimentarysenseof sharp 
is rare in Shakespeare- 

sinister (v. i. 162). left; ct. 
Troilus and Cressida, iv. 5. 127 

iny mother's blood ^ 

Runs on the dexter cheek, and this sinister 
Bounds in my father s • 

sooth (ii. 2. 129), truth, 
sort, subst. (iii. 2. 21). a com- 
pany; generally m a contemptuous 



sense; e.g. Richard III., v. 3. 316: 
*'a sort of vagabonds”; 2 Henry 
VI., iii. 2. 277: "a sort of tinkers”. 

sort, verb (iii. 2. 252), 'befaU’, 
'fallout'; cf. Hamlet, i. i. 109 — 

Well may it sort, that this ^>ortentous fijrote 
Com^s armed through our watch**. 

sphery (ii. 2. 99). star-like. 
Sphere, which properly means the 
orbit of a star (cf. ii. 1. 7. note), 
came to be taken for the star it- 

spleen (i. i. 146), a sudden im- 
pulse of passion, or sometimes of 
laughter. The passions were sup- 
posed to depend on the condition 
of the spleen. 

square (ii. i. 30). quarrel. Cf. 
Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 13. 41 : 

“ Mine honesty and I begin to 

squash (iii. i. 167), an unripe 
pcascod. Cf. Twelph Night, i. 5. 
165: “Not yet old enough for a 
man, nor young enough for a boy; 
ns a squash is bt.“fore it is a peas- 
cod”. The American squash or 
marrow is said to be a corruption 
of the Indian asqtltasquash. 

sweet (iii. 2. 32), in the con- 
temptuous senae of the motlern 
East-cndcr's “ He’s a beauty”. 

tailor (ii. I. 54). probably 
‘thief. Cf. x\o\fi ad loc. 

tawny (i. 2. 81; iii. 2. 264), 
dark ; from Kr. tanni, tanned or 
stained: cf. s.v. OrangC’tawny. 

throw (ii. i. 255), cast off, of a 
snake casting its slough. 

thrum (V. 1. 276), explained by 
Nares as *' the tufted part beyond 
the tic, at the end of the warp, in 
wc.aving". It appears to be a 
Scand. word for 'edge', Icel. 
thromr, connected with Gk. 
end, Lat. terminus. 

tiring-house (iii. i. 4). theattir- 
ing-house or green-room of a stage. 

touch (iii. 2. 70), exploit; cf. the 
Fr. coup. This precise sense does 
not occur again in Shakespeare. 

trace (ii. i. 25), track, wander 
through. Cf. Much Ado, iii. i. 

16: “as we do trace this alley up 
and down”; and Milton, Comus, 
423 ; ' ' May trace huge forests and 
unharboured heaths”. 

translate (i. 1. 191; iii. i. 122; 

2. 32), transform. 

transport (iv. 2. 4), carry away. 

It may possibly be intended of 
death, as in Measure for Measure, 
iv. 3. 72 — 

** to transport him In the mind he is 
Were damnable'*; 

but more probably of enchant- 
ment. The modern penal sense 
is of later origin. 

triumph (i. i. 19), a public fes- 
tivity or procession. 

troth (ii. 2. 36. 42, 129), truth, 
tuneable (i. i. 184; iv. i. 121). 

vaward (iv. i. 102), morning 
or fore-part of the <lay. It is the 
same word as vanward and fa/i- 

videlicet (v. i. 31*). that is to 
say; it is a Uatin word, and= 
videre, to see-f/rVr/, it is allowed. 

villagery (ii. 1. 35), village folk. 
For the termination cf. peasantry, 
infantry, &c. 

virtuous (iii. 2. 367), powerful, 
efficacious; especially use<l of the 
virtue of herbs or me^Jicincs, 

votaress (ii. t. 123. 163), a nun, 
one bound to ser\-ice by vows. Lat. 

wanton. (i){ii. i. 99)i luxuriant. 
Cf. Richop-d //.. i. 3. 214: “ Four 
lagging winters and four wanton 
springs”; (2) (ii. x. 63. 129), amor- 
ous, often with some imputation 
of loose l>chaviour. The literal 
sense is ' unrestrained', from A.S. 
wan, a negative prefix, and togen, 
trained, etlucaled. 

waxen (ii. i. 56). increase. The 
old plural termination "'.as 
almost obsolete in Shakespeare s 



time; it survived occasionally in 
the form been or bin— are. Cf. 
Pericles, ii. prol. 28: ‘ Wher when 
men been'; and Peele, Arraign- 
ment of Paris — 

My love is fair, my love is 

As fresh as bln the Hoovers in May”. 

weeds (ii. i. 256; ii. 2. 71), 
clothes; from A.S. weed. 

welkin (iii. 2. 356). sky; lit. 
clouds, from M.E. welken, A.S. 
VioUnu, plural of wolcen, a cloud. 

wode (ii. 1. 192). mad, the A.S. 

woodbine (ii. i- 251; W. i. 39), 
a climbing plant, probably honey* 
suckle. Cf. notes ad locc. 

worm (iii. 2. 71), serpent, espe- 
cially one of small size. So in 
Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2. 242, 
an asp is called "the pretty worir. 
of Nilus". 

wot (iii. 2.422; iv. I. j6i(, know 
ist sing. pres, of wit, the M E 
witen, A.S. witan. 


(The references are to the Notes ad locc. Other words will 

be found in the Glossary . ) 

abridgment, v. i. 39. 
after-supper, v. i. 34. 
alone, iii. 2. 1 19. 
amiable, v. i. 2. 
antipodes, iii. 2. 55. 
argument, iii. 2. 242. 
artificial gods, iii. 2. 203. 
bottle of hay, iv. i. 30. 
by *r lakin, iii. I. 12. 
canker blossom, iii. 2. 282. 
changeling, ii. i. 23. 
chough, iii. 2. 21. 
cobweb, iii. i. 164. 
companion, i. I. 15. 
cuckoo, iii. I. 120. 
darkling, ii. 2. 86. 
dead, iii. 2. 57. 
dear, i. i. 249. 
defect, iii. I. 35. 
dewberries, iii. 1. 150. 
Dian’s hud, iv. I. 70. 
disfigure, iii. I. 53. 
dislemperature, ii. l. 106. 
double, ii. 2. 9. 
dove, sucking, i. 2. 70. 
eglantine, ii. l. 252. 
enforced, iii. I. 180. 
estate, i. 1. 98. 
ever, i. I. 150. 
exposition, iv. i. 36. 
extort, iii. 2. 169. 
extremity, iii. 2. 3. 
eyes, fiery, iii. I. 154 
faint, i. I. 215. 
fairy-rings, ii. I. 9. 
favours, iv. i. 46. 
fearful, iii. i. 29. 
fee, a lover’s, iii. 2. 113. 
fire, A, iii. 1. 92. 

generally, i. 2. 2. 

God’s my life, iv. i. 200. 
gossip’s bowl, a, ii. i. 47. 
grace, ii. 2. 89. 
hempen homespuns, iii. 1. 67. 
increase (their), ii. i. 1 14. 
interlude,, i. 2. 5. 
ivy, female, iv. l. 41. 

Jew, iii. I. 84. 

join in souls, iii. 2. 150. 

kind, i. I. 54. 

kniglit, a wandering, i. 2. 37. 
knot-grass, iii. 2. 329. 
lingers, i. i. 4. 
love-in-idleness, ii. !. 168. 
maypole, iii. 2. 296. 
mazes, quaint, ii. i. 99. 
mercy, iii. l. 160. 
nnmic, iii. 2. 19. 
misprised, iii. 2. 74. 
mortals, human, ii. I. lOl. 
moused, v. i. 259. 
musk-roscs, ii. i. 252; 2. 3; 
I- 3- 

night, since, iii. 2. 275. 
night-rule, iii. 2. 5. 
obscenely, i. 2. 92. 
odours, iii. I. 74. 
oxUps, ii. I. 250. 
parted eye, iv. i. 86. 
patched, iv. i. 205. 
pensioners, ii. l. 10. 
Philomel, ii. 2. 13. 
plain-song, iii. i. 119. 
present, iii. i. 53. 
prologue, iii. i. 16. 
prosperity, iv. 1. 87. 
quantity, i. 1. 232. 
recorder, v. I. 122. 




revenue, i. i. 6. 

self, i. I. 1 13. 

should, iii. 2. 45. 

snuff, in, v. i. 242. 

sort, iii. 2. 13. 

sphery, ii. 2. 99. 

squash, iii. i. 167. 

stand upon points, v. i. 119. 

stretched, v. i. 59, 

sweet, iii. 2. 32. 

tear a cat, i. 2. 23. 
thin, ii. i. 109. 
thisne, i. 2. 44. 
tiring-house, iii. 1. 4. 
tongs, iv. 1. 27. 
versing, ii. i. 67. 
virtuous, iii. 2. 367. 
ways, all, iv. i. 38. 
woodbine, ii. i. 251. 





Abbott, i. I. 98. 164, 226, 231; 
2.2. 18, 70, 80; ii. 1.9*’ G*' 
146, 149, i95-*97t 208, 221, 
244; iii. I- 32, 39-163; 2. 

177 ; iv. I. 163. 

accent, i. I. 6, 151. *5^5 **• *• 7®» 

105; iii. 2. 237. 

AtUlison, iv. i. 121. 
a<ljectives, use of, i. 1.80; 2. l8. 
.Kgles, ii. I. 78-80. 

.lineas, story of, i. I. 73. 

Albertus Magnus, iii. 1. 92. 
alliteration, v. 1. 146, 264. 

Airs Well That Ends Well, v. 

I. 423. 

allusions, historical, ii. i. 146- 

Amazons, ii. i. 70. 
anachronism, i. I. 70. 

Anliopa, ii. I. 78-80. 
antithesis, i. 1. 31,92. I94 20*» 
200; ii. 1. 71 -84. 

Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 2. 188. 
Ajiollo, ii. I. 231. 

Ariadne, ii, i. 78-80. 
Artemis-Diana, ii. 1. 158. 

As Von Like Jt, ii. 2. 118. 

Hacon, Essays, iii. 2. |8S. 

Bailey, v. I. 59- 

Beaumont and Fletcher, Scont' 
ful Lady, i. 2. 23; Ktiight of 
the liurning Pestle, iii. 2. 329; 
The Coxcomb, iii. 2. 329. 
beauty in Elizabeth’s time, iii. 2. 

257; V. I. 1 1. 

Bennett, iii. 2. 21. 

Bergomask dance, v. i. 340. 
Bible, the 1611, iii. 2. 177; iv. 
I. 206-209. 

biblical allusions, ii. I. 268. 
Boccaccio, De Claris Mnlicrihus, 

i. 1. 133. 

Brand, Popular Antiquities, S 1. 

broken lines, iii. 2. 29. 

Browning, ii. i. 55* *• **9* 

Cadmus, iv. i. 109. 

Carew, Pastoral Dialogues, ii. I. 


Centaurs, V. I. 44. 

Chalmers, v. i. 9. 

Chapman, Bussy D'Ambois, ii. 

I. 158. 

Chapman and Shirley, The Ball, 
i. 2. 95. 

Chappell, Popular Music of the 
Olden Time, v. i. 122. 
characterization, iii. 2. 177-344. 
Chaucer, Km^hL's Tale, i. 1. 16, 
167; iii. 2. 329; iv. 1. 116- 
124 ; V. 1. 51; Marchautls 
Tale, iii. 2. loi; Troilus and 
Cressida, i. 1. 67; 7 'he Floxoer 
and the I^af, iv. i. 70; Roman 
de la Rose, i. t. 235; Good 
II omen, i. 1. 33. 
clowns (Sliakespeare’s), i. 2. 2, 
Collier, iii. l. 59, 73; 2. 144; v. 

1 . 59, 205. 

collocpiialisms, i. 2. 80. 

Comedy of Errors, i. i. 20, 127; 
iv. I. 41. 

“companies of players”, i. 2. 

intro.; v, i. 125. 
“comparatives”,!, l. 76; double, 

ii. 1. 208; 2. 89; iii. I. 18. 
“compressed phrases”, i. l. IS*- 
conjunctions, uses of, ii. l. 21. 149- 
construction, “grammatical”, i. 

I- 39. 135; i'- 91. *50» *• 

118; iii. 1. 42; 2 87, 97; 

I. 170; v. I. 238. 
contradictions, ii. i. 23 and 123; 

iii. I. 67-94. 




Copland, iii. l. 92. 

Corin, ii. i. 66-68. 

Craik, G. L., iii. 2. I 77 - 
Cunliffe, J. W., i. 2. 22. 

Cupid, i. I. 235. 
customs, contemporary, allusions 
to, V. I. 376. 

Cymbeline, i. 1. 215; ii* *• 252; 
iii. 2. 379. 

Dante, Inferno ^ v. i. 240-250. 
Daphne, ii. i. 231. 
dative, “ethic”, i* 2. 70. 

Day, Jno., The Isle of Guls, i. 

Decker, The Gull’s Horn Booh, 

V. I. 107. 

dialogue in play, i. I. 128-251. 
Dido, i. I. 173. 

Donne, iv, i. 137. 

Douce, i. I. 235; iii. 2. loi, 213. 
drama (Elizabethan), popularity 
of, i. 2. intro.*, characteristics, 
i. 2. 22; V. 1. 266; women’s 
parts, i. 2. 39, 40. 

Drayton, Epistle to Reynolds, v. 
i. 12, 13; Nymphidia, ii. i. 
4-6; iii. 2. 25, loi. 

Ebsworth, iii. 2. 19. 

Edwardes, Richard, Damon and 
Pythias,\. 1. 108, 266-267, 324* 
EUacombe, Plant Lore of Shake- 
speare, ii. I. 252; iv. I. 39- 
41 - 

emphasis, staccato, ii. 2. 108, 109. 
epithets, ii. x. 84; iii. 2. 260, 
288, 296, 365. 

Erasmus, i. i. 70. 
errors in natural history, iii. 2. 72. 
Erymanlhian boar, v. i. 44. 
events, contemporary, allusions 
to, ii. I. 84-116; iii. I. 28; V. 
I. intro., 93, 94, 308-309. 
Faerie Queen, ii. i. 4-6. 
faeries, character of, ii. 1. 60, 84, 
155, 186; 2. 2; ui. I. 78, 92, 
98, 13S; 2. 25, 120, 347, 355; 
iv. I. 83. 

Farmer, ii. i. 56; iv. X. 70. 
Faustus, Dr., iii. i. 9. 

fickleness of men, iii. 2. 92 » 93 - 
Fischer, R., i. 2. 22. 

Fleay, i. i. 122; ii. 2. 3; iv. i. 
210, 211. 

YXono's Alontaigne, iii. 2. 177 - 
Fowler, W. W., Summer Studies 
of Birds and Books, iii. I. 1 19 
I Frazer, Golden Bough, i. i. 167. 

I Furness, ii. i. 54 - 
' “genitive”, middle English, ii. 

1 1. 7; inflected, iv. i. 93. 

I glow-worm, iii. I* 154 - 
! Golding, Arthur, i. i. 70; 2 * 

i lOI. 

t Gomme, Alice B., Traditional 
Games, ii. i. 9 ^- 
Gower, Confessio, i. 1. I 33 - 
Greene, A Maiden's Dream, iv. 

1. 210, 211; A Groat's Worth 
of Wit, i. 2. 22. 

I Grey, ii. i. 109. 

' Halliwell, i. i. 165; 2. 44 ; »• »• 
4-6, 54 , 55; »‘* 2. 5; 2. II 3 - 
Hamlet, i. i. 232; 2. 23, 39, 
40; ii. I. 103, 104; iii. I. 16; 

2 . 381-387; iv. I. 19; 2. 14. 
Hanmer, i. i- *87; ii- i- to*; 

iii. 2. 13, 54 , 144; iv. i- 32, 
33; V. I. 59 - 

Harvey, Gabriel, li. i. I 5 * 
Heath, i. i. 216-219- 
Hecate, the triple, v. i. 370. 
Heminges, v. I. 25. 

Henry IV., i. 2. 2; iii. 2. 2S2. 
Henry V., i. I. 216-219; m. 

16; 2. 188; v. I. 85, 106. 
Henry VI., iii. 2. 97- 

Henry, Prince of Scotland, chris- 
tening of, iii. I. 28. 
Henslowe’s Diary, i. 2. 2?. 
“herbals”. Turner, Lyte, Gerard, 
Linacres, iv. i. 39-4** 
Hercules, v. i. 44- 
Herr, v. i. 59. ^ 

Herrick, i. i. 167; n. i. 168. 
Hey wood, Jasper, L i. 226; 2 - 22. 
Histriomastix^ i. 2. 23. 

Holland, Translation of Ammt- 
anus Marcellinus, i. I. 165. 



humour of play, iv. i. 206-209; 
V. I. 278, 300. 

initial syllable, omission of, iii. 

2 - 35 *. 

irony, iii. i. 133. 
it, possessive of, iii. 2. 177. 
James I. of Scotland, Kitt^s 
Quair, i, i. 170. 
jests, collection of, by Sir Nicho* 
las E’Estrange, iii. i. 19. 
Johnson, Dr., ii. i. 54; iii, i. 

105, 106; iii. 2. 25. 

Joicey, G., iii. 2. 257, 258. 
Jonson, Ben, iii. 1. 16; iv. 1. 
39-4 1; Cynlhtn's Knels. v. i, 
82. 83. 

Kempe, Will, i. 2. 2. 
Kenilworth, iii. i. 19. 

L^or, ii. 2. 86. 

Kinnear, v. i. 59, 

Kirkhy and Spence, littlomohgy, 
iv. I. 13. 

Kyd, Spanish Tragedy^ iii. i. 

I^mb. Charles, iii. 2. 3S4. 
I.apithac, V, i. 44, 
lines, rhymed, ii. i. 14, 15,41,42. 
lines beginning alike, ii. i, 136. 
Lodge, Wit's Miserie and th€ 
World's Afadnesst, etc.^ v. I, 9. 
Lrn’ds Labour's Lost, i. 2. intro., 
22: ii. 2. 122; iii. 2. 461 ; v. I. 
108, 146, 419. 

Lyly, i. i. 70; v. i. 46. 

Lyricism, i. I, 171. 

Macbeth, ii. 2. 6. ii. 

Malone, i. I. 135; ii. i. 106; 2. 

104; iii. I. 19, 28, 1 16. 
Markham, Country Contentment, 
iv. I. 121; English Arcadia, 
V. I. 419. 

Marlowe, i. 2. 22; Hero and 
Leander, v. i. 195. 

Marshall, iii. 2. 203-214. 
Marston, Parasitaster, ii. i. 55. 
Masson’s Milton, ii. i. 7. 

A/erry Wives 0/ Windsor, iii. 1. 

metaphor, i. i. 145-149; 2. 95. 

metre, trochaic, use of, ii. 2. 
27 - 34 - 

Milton, iii. 2. 177, 329. 380; 
Paradise Lost, i. i. 132, 149, 
207; ii. I. 39; V. I. 37, 238; 
Lomus, ii. i. 29, 69; II I'en- 
seroso, iii. 2. 379; Lycidas, v. 

1. 48; L' Allegro, ii. i, 33-38, 
252; iii. 2. 391 ; Ode on the 
Nativity, iii. 2. 381-387; On 
the Death of a Fair Infant, iii. 

2. 384; Vacation Exercise, v. 
I. 387. 

miracle plays, i. 2. 22. 

Moon, ii. i. 103, 104, 156; iii. 1. 

Mrs. Malaprop, i. 2.2; iii. i. 73. 
Afuch Ado about Nothing, iii. 2. 

282; iv. I. 39-41 . 
mysteries and moralities, iii. 2. 

Narcissus, i. 2. intro. 

Nash, ii. i. 15; Summer's Last 
Will, iii. I. 138. 

Nichols, Progresses of Elizabeth, 
V. I. 2, 22. 

Nine Men’s Morris, ii. i. 98. 
Orpheus, v. i. 48. 

Othello, i. I. 231 ; ii. 2. 154. 
Ovid, iv. 1. 3; Ileroides, i. i. 
*331 AIetamorphoses, \. I. 170; 
ii. I. 168, 231 ; v. 1. 48. 
oxymoron, i. 2. 9, 10, 44; v. i. 

pastoral, first English, ii. 1.66-68. 
pathos, i. I. 149. 

Pcele, Old ITtves' Tale, v. 1, 318. 
Pericles, v. i. 93, 94. 

Perigenia, ii. i. 78 So. 

Perring, v. 1. 59. 

person, change of, ii. 1. 35, 36. 

Phillida, ii. i, 66-68. 

Phoebe, iii. 2. 55. 

Plutarch, v. i. 44; North’s, i. 

I. 70; ii. 1. 70, 195-197. 
Pope, ii. I. 32, 249: 2. 77: iii. 

I. 181 ; 2 . 80; iv. I. 32, 33. 
preposition, use of, ii. 1. 244; 2. 
154; iii. I. 39-44, 163; iv. 1. 



178; omission of, i. I. 164; 

ii. I. 235 - 

Preston, Thomas, i. 2. 9, lo; 
iv. 2. 18. 

prologue, iii. i. 16; use of in 
Elizabethan drama, v. i. 106. 
pronunciation, ii. 1. 263, 264; v. 

1. 197-201. 

prose and blank verse, use of, 
iv. I. 1-42. 

Ptolemaic system, ii. i. 7. 
punctuation, ii. i. 220, 221; iii. 

I. 92; iv. i. 39-41; V. 1. 107. 
puns, i. 2. 69, 83; iiL 2. 188; 

V. I. 236, 297, 317. 

Puttenham, Arfe of English 
Poesie, v. i. 146. 

Pyramus, iii. i. 84; v. i. 108. 

Ray, English Proverbs^ iii. 2. 
463 - 

relation between ideas, expres- 
sion of, iii. 2. 203. 
rhymes, bad, v. 162, 163; rhymed 
lines, ii. i. 14, 15; 42, 43. 
Richard //., i. x. 216-219; ii. 

1. 51; 2.20; iii. I. 154; 2. 55. 
Ritson, iii. 2. 19. 

Rolfe, i. I. 235. 

Romeo and Juliet ^ i. i. 147; 2. 

9 i lo; ii. 2. 122; iii. 1. 16; 
^ V. I. 323, 338. 

Rose Theatre, the, i. 2. 22. 

Rowe, iii. 2. 451. 

scansion, i. i. 24, 26, 27, 69; 

15. 32. 41. 42. 58, 

79 . "3,* 249, 251; 2. 27-34, 
77 . 156; iii. 2. 201, 204, 282, 
292; iv. I. 32, 33, 104, 163, 
189; v. I. 59. 

Scott, iii. I. 19. 

Seneca’s tragedies, i. 2. 22. 
Sharpham, Edward, The Fleir^ 
V. I. 332. 

Sheridan, School for Scandal^ i. 

2. 2 ; iii. I. 73. 

Sidney, Arcadia, i. i. 170; 

Astrophel and Stella, v, i. 146. 
Smith, G. C. Moore, ii. I. 91. 
sonnets, iii. 2. 282, 392. 

sonneteers, Elizabethan, iii. 2. 

Spalding, iii. 2. 201. 
spelling, i. i. 3 *. *• 54 . 55 . 

iii. I. 12, 92. 
spiders, ii. 2. 20. 

Staunton, v. i. 264. 

Steevens, ii. I. 102; iv. 2. 18; 

V. 1. 4*9- 

stichomuthia, i. i. 194-201. 

Stow, John, A Survey of London, 

iii. 2. 5* 

Stubbe’s Anatomic of Abuses, iii. 

2. 296. 

substantives, words used as, i. i. 

suicides, after death, iii. 2. 383* 
Sweet, iii. 2. 177. 

Taming of the Shrew, i. i. 232. 
Tawyer, v. i. 125. 

Taylor, the Water Poet, iv. i. 

Tempest, i. i. 98; 2 - 23; u. I. 

9, 84-116; V. I. 423. 
textual notes, i. 1. 4. 8, 10, 24, 
26,27, 135. »39. *43. . *59. *82, 
187, 216; 2. 8, 18; li. I. 4-6, 

33 . 46, 54 , 56, 69. 79, 9 *. 
101-103, loi. 109, 190, 251; 
2. 104, 113, 150; i»- *■ 59 . 73 . 
92, 127, 128, 181; 2. 13. 19, 
54, 80, 144. *50, 201, 213, 214, 
250, 257, 258, 344. 4*5., 4*8, 
451; iv. I. 27, 39 - 4 *. 46, 70, 
87, 170, 189, 190; V. I. 38, 
42, 43.^ *25. 205, 220, 264, 
294, 308, 309, 3x8, 358, 386, 
405, 406. 

Theobald, i. I. X 35 . 200 ; 11. 
I. 251; iii. 2. 213, 214, 250; 

iv. i. 38, 110; V. I. 318, 311, 

The Roaring Girl, i. 2. 23. 
Theseus, character of, v. i. 2-22. 
The Vision of Piers Plowman, v. 

*• *46. ^ , 

The Wisdome of Dr. Dodypoll, 
ii. I. 15 - 

Thirlby, ii. *• 190; I. 70. 



Thisbe, iii. 1. 84; iv. i. 21V 

Thronsrft ffu Look,n^r Glass, i;-. 

^ • 3 ^ • 

Tithomis, iii. 2. 389. 
titles of Elizabethan i)lav<? i 
9. to. ’ ■ ■■ 

,.1.83. ,64; 2. 86; ii. 
t- 02; m. 1. 48. 

“to" omission of, ii. i. ,38. 

lotfels Mtscellattv, ii. i. 66-68. 

i. I. ,70; ii. 2. 

Tuy A^obU A'tnsmeu, i. 2. intro.; 
m. 2. 203-214. 

* t 

Tyrwhitt, ii. i. 109. 

t ‘lall. Nicholas. Roister Uoister 
V. 1. 107. ’ 

Upton, V. I. 59. 

I'enus and Ad>ttis, i, i. 135; iv 

Venus’ cestus, i. ,.172; doves. 

1. I. 171. * 

Vesta, ii. i. i ;$. 

Walker, ii. 2. 77. 

of Selhorne, iii. i. iig, 

II inters 7 'a/e, i. i. 215; 2. ic*. 
»!• I- 103, 104. 250; V. I. 4. 



§1. The structure and arrangements of the Elizabethan theatre are 
still under discussion, and many points of detail remain unsettled. The 
j^t twenty years have produced a very extensive and highly technical 
literature on the subject, chiefly in England, America, and Germany. 
It IS b^ed especially on the new evidence derived from (i) the original 
si^e directions, (2) contemjwrary illustrations and descriptions. The 
loiiowing summary gives the conclusions which at present appear most 
reasonable, neglecting much speculative matter of great intere^. 

Shakespeare arrived in London, soon after 15S5, theatrical 

ihe oldest^ was the Blactcfriarc r%nth theatres the principal, and 

properly of the comw^ was also the 

inhibition of i^Ton movaWe 'he 

bear-l>aiting and cock-fiehlinv ^ arenas used for 

and in part'dictati^g^h^t ‘'heatres^ 

- 'Oi'-. '-■1 accordingly 

Standi^. spectators were known as*^ ihe ‘ grouidl^Bs'"* and the throng 

to 3s. M.) with seats, were provided in tifr« r.f • '^* 0 .'^'= «xp«nsiive places (up 

E.cfc„r -<‘'™ 'S'--! 

ap|^;aJs'’of ?he®Li"rt®in^udcd 7 ., 1 --- 

platform (as much as d2 feet $ta^e^ a rectangular 

into the circular area from the ha u ^ examples) projecting 

‘groundlings- on three side^ Ah^ \ surrounded by 
ings. but nf side or front curiai^^^^^ 117 ^ ^ 

between the™, of „„cer,ain' sh^^"fn°d“eret I'lSd' o1 


4 • 


inner stage. Above this was (3) an upper room or rooms, which included 
the actors’ ‘tiring-house’, with a window or windows opening on to 
(4) a balcony or gallery, from which was hung (5) a curtain^ by means 
of which the inner recess could be concealed or disclosed. 

§ 5. The most impK>rtant divergence of this type of structure from that 
of our theatres is in the relation between the outer stage and the audi- 
torium. In the modern theatre the play is treated as a picture, framed 
in the proscenium arch, seen by the audience like any other picture from 
the front only, and shut off from their view at any desired moment by 
letting fall the curtain. An immediate consequence of this was that a 
scene (or act) could terminate only in one of two w-ays. Either the 
persons concerned in it walked, or were carried, off the stage; or a 
change of place an<l circumstances was without their leaving it. 

Roth these methods were used. The first was necessary only at the 
close of the play. For this reason an Elizabethan play rarely ends on 
a clhnax, such as the close of Ibsen’s Ghosts', the overpowering effect of 
which would be gravely diminished if, instead of the curtain falling upon 
Osvald’s helpless cry for “ the sun ”, he and his mother had to walk off 
the stage. Marlowe’s Faitstus ends with a real climax, liecause the 
catastrophe i/'so facto leaves the stage clear. Rut the close of even the 
most overwhelming final scenes of Shakespeare is relatively quiet, or 
even, as in Macbeth, a little tame. The concluding lines often provide 
a motive for the (compulsory) clearing of the stage. 

In \\\e Tragedus, the dead body of the hero has usually to be Iwme ceremoniously 
aw.ay. followed !>>• the rest: so Aufidius in Cario/nnus: “ Help, three o' the chiefest 
soldiers: I 11 be one . Similarly in //nw/r/and King Lear. In Othello, Desdemona’s 
bed apparently »n the curtained recess, and at the close the curtains were drawn 
vipon the two l)(*dies, instead of their being as usual borne aw.iy 

J he close of the llistories often resembles the dispersing of an informal council 
?>?•§ ** policy by llic principal person; lluis Richard II, closes wilh 

Holingl.rokes announcement of the peiuance he proposes to pay for Richard's death ; 

his orders for the campaign against Northumberland and Glcndower; 
Amgrohn with halconbrnlge s great assertion of English patriotism. 

In the Comedies, the leading persons will often withdraw to explain to one another 
at leisure what the audience already knows {Winter's Tale, TemOest, bferrhant oj 
/<«/<■/«) or to carry out the wedding rites (ds >'r>« Lihe It, .Midsummer^Nithfs 
IJreamy, or they strike up a ine.xsiire and thus (as in Much Ado) naturally dance off 
the stage Sometimes the chief persons have withdrawn before the close, leaving some 
minor ch.aracter-Puck {Afidsnmmer Kight's Dream) or the Clown {Twel/lh Fight) 
-to wind up the whole with a snatch of song, and then retire himself. 

§ 6. Rut the most important result of the exposed stage was that it 

placed strict limits upon dramatic illusion, and thus compelled the resort, 
for most purposes, to conventions resting on symlndism, su^estion, or 
make-believe. It was only in dress that anything like simulation could 
be attempted ; and here the Klizal>ethan comJ^anics, as is well known, 
were lavish in the extreme. Painted scenes, on the other hand, even 
had they been available, w*ould have been idle or worse, when perhaps 
a Uiird of the audience would see, behind the actors, not the scenes bul 
the people in the opposite gallery, or the gallants seated on the stage, 
Kspecially where complex and crowded actions were introduced, the 
most beggarly symbolic suggestion was cheerfully accepted^ Jonson, in 


the spirit of classicist realism, would have tabooed all such intvactable 
matter; and he scoffed, in his famous Prologue, at the * three rusty 
swords ” whose clashing had to do duty for “ York and Lancaster s long 
jars”. Shakespeare’s realism was never of this literal kind, but in bring- 
ing Agincourt upon the stage of the newly built Globe in the Mlowing 
year (1599) he showed himself so far sensitive to criticisms of this type 
that he expressly appealed to the audience’s imagination — “ eke out our 
imperfections with your thoughts” — consenting, moreover, to assist them 
by the splendid descriptive passages interposed between the Acts. 

It is probable that the Elizabethan popular audience did not need any 
such appeal. It had no experience of elaborate ‘ realism ’ on the sta^S^ » 
the rude movable stages on which the earliest dramas had been played 
compelled an ideal treatment of space and a symbolic treatment ol pro 
perties', and this tradition, though slowly giving way, was still para^ 
mount throughout Shakespeare’s career. Thus every audience accepted 
as a matter of course (i) the representation of disiant things or 
simultaneously on the stage. Sidney, in 1580, had ridiculed the 
Romantic plays of his time with “Asia of one side and Africa of the 
other”, indicated by labels. But Shakespeare in 1593-4 could still 
represent the tents of Richard III. and Richmond within a few yards 
of one another, and the Ghosts speaking alternately to each. 
audience accepted (2) the presence on the stage, in full view of the 
audience, of accessories irrelevant to the scene in course of performance. 
A property requisite for one set of scenes, but out of place in another, 
could be simply ignored while the latter were in progress ; just as the 
modern audience sees, but never reckons into the scenery, the footlights 
and the prompter’s box. Large, movable objects, such as beds or 
chairs, were no doubt often brought in when needed; but no one was 
disturbed if they remained during an intervening scene in which they 
were out of place. And “properties either difficult to move, like a 
well, or so small as to be unobtrusive, were habitually left on the stage 
as long as they were wanted, whatever scenes intervened ” (Reynolds). 

Thus in Jonson's The Case is Altered (an early play, not yet reflectinR his charac- 
lenstic technique). Jaques, in III. 2, hides his gold in the earth and covers w'*'' » 
heap of dung to avoid suspicion. In IV. 4. he removes the dung to assure himsejt 
that the gold is still there. The intervening scenes represent rooms in herneze s 
P^ace, and Juniper’s shop; but the heap of dung doubtless remained on the stage an 
the time. Similarly in Peeles David and Bethsabe, the spring in which Belhsabe 
bathes; and in his Old Wives' Tale, a ‘study’ and ‘a cross , which belong to un- 
conneaed parts of the action. 

It follows from this that the supposed locality oj a scene could be 
tinged without any change in the properties on the stage, or even m 
the persons. What happened was merely that some properties \%hich 
previously had no dramatic relevance, suddenly acquired it, and vtce 
versa', that a tree, for instance, hitherto only a stage property out ol 
use, became a tree and signified probably, a wewd. The change 01 
scene may take place without any break in the dialogue, and be only 
marked by the occurrence of allusions of a different tenor. 

Thus in Faiw/w, at v. 1106 f., Faustus U in “a fair and pleasant green”, on 

his way from the Emperor’s Court to Wittenberg; at v 1143 f.. he is back in nis 



Romeo aftd Juliet, I. ^ 5. Romeo and his friends are at first in the 
cet . at I. 4, 1 14, according to the Folio, ‘ they march a^ut the stage and serving 
? forth With their napkins”: in other words, we are now in Caplilel’s hall, and 
edifions. meeting h.s guests. This is conventionalized in modem 

§7. The Inner Stage. — An audience for which the limitations 
of he actual stage meant so little, might be expected to dispense 
readily with the concessions to realism implied in providing an actual 
inner chamber for scertes performed ‘within’, ami an actual gallery 
for those performed aloft . And the importance and number of the 
former class of scenes has, in fact, been greatly exaggerated. 

Applying modern u««ges to the semi-medi«val Elizabethan stage. Brandi {E,h. 

’"f edition of Schlegel’s translation) and BroJmeier (DisJ^t;. 

thc ‘ 1 tlm-irivf Elua^than dramal, pul forward the theory of 
...^i ^ , scene, acprding to which the inner and the outer stage were 

used .'iliernately . a recurring scene, with elaborate properties, being arranged in 
the former, and merely curtained off while intervening scenes were plaved 5n the 

'-hile.lhis theory is plaufible, L applie^d to sorUe of 
V ^ ®v.®‘ mtricate transitions between rooms^at Belmont and 

? T- '*1 >t breaks down in others (e.g. Cymbeline, IF 

2, 3. Ktchard //., I. 3, 4), a„d especially m many plays by other dramatists 

etrVi »se of the ‘inner stage’ was in general re* 

fm^^irnl ,? scene: (t) where persons ‘within’ formed an 

Integra though subordinate part of a scene of which the main issue was 

FWHnirfr ‘‘i play. scene in or where 

1 erdmand and Miranda are discovered playing chess in 7 '/ie TtmUst\ 

(2) where a scene, though engaging the whole interest, is supposed to 

chamber. Thus Desdemona s chamber, Prospero’s 
cell, Timons cave, Lear’s hovel, the Capulet’s tomb. 

Balcony.— There is less doubt about the use of the 
balcony or gallery. This was in fact an exlrcmelv favourite re- 

rnn^7nriT‘ in part explains the abundance of serenade, 

rope-ladder, and other upper-story scenes in Elizabethan drama. 

SylvTwUh Above it. Juliet discoursed with Romeo, and 

syivia wiin ! rotcus \l ivo Geutltfuen of ytrona, IV, a)- Richard HI Addrewd 

ihe King"'' F^m the Sw 

Sauire Tub 5ti i* hnils Petruchio aud Griimio below; and 

sv?mmons •’ “'-S'ver to the 

en?^Tcd in this unn.r ‘‘ ** Probable, occasionally 

luliet’s chamh^^Pl V , Ji ‘V*’® 1!°** ."‘‘‘'""'I interpretation of the scenes in 
I , . ?k" *.^1 other hand, though the Senators in VV/w 

!k ’ *■ • go up ,n,o the ‘Senate House’”, it is prob.ab)e that the debate 

l-or [nrtlier reference the following among others may l>e mentioned:— 

of edition of Schlegel's translatSn 

\V A?cher^ xaV p/- i'lbright. TAe SAaAes/ena» S/a^e (New York); 

rm’icc 7 ^' Plil^eT^'^iT R„>irn>, ,9.^) ; W. I. Uw- 

D Kiggisr-Siw;^^;; iiZ'jr' .nd ami' series): 

l>eL^^rkeT'' examples have 

C H. H. 





J. S. ARMOUR, M.A., I.E.S. 

Professor of English, Patna College. 


(Ind.) P 


Accession No 


Act I. — Scene 1. 

1. Hippolyta, a queen of the Amazons, given in marriage to 
Theseus by Hercules, who had conquered her. (See Appendix D, 

PP- * 7 J- 3 -) 

‘The time of our wedding approaches very rapidly.* 

2. happy days; the days are given over to rejoicing, and thus 
are ‘happy’; while Theseus is ‘happy’ because they are near to hj^ 
wedding day. 

3 - methinks, not used in modern prose. 

slow, i.e. slowly, as frequently in Elizabethan usage. 

5 ~ 6 * The use of figurative language is frequently a guide to the 
st^e of Shakespeare’s maturity. Here the simile is full and de- 
tailed, a sign of youthfulness in the poet, when he has more words 
than thoughts. 

6. Long withering out, holding back from the full enjoyment 

u metaphor in ‘ withers ’ describes clearly and concisely how 

the young heir regards the period of waiting. 

7. steep, hide, bury; as the sun sinks in the western ocean. 

8. dream. This is the first of the many direct references to the 
dream nature of the play. 

9. like . . ,, another simile, and one that is both beautiful and 


10. in heaven, in the heavens, in the sky. 

11. solemnities, ceremonies of a reverent kind, the cele* 

of a marriage. Note that the speech ends in the middle 

f line, but quite naturally; a sign of Shakespeare’s growing 

r ™ in the use of his verse. There is no padding out to the end 
of the line. 




[Act I 

11. “master of the revels to Theseus”, is responsible 
for the official amusements of the Court. The name occurs in 
Chaucer’s Knight's TaUy which Shakespeare appears to have known. 
(See Introduction, p. 17.) 

12. merriment or merriments. The idea is rather ol encour- 
aging the citizens to mark the ‘nuptial hour’ with a play, masque, 
or dance — a task which <levolved naturally ujx>n riiiloslrate, “our 
usual manager of mirth ” (v. 1. 35) — than of general rejoicing. 

13. pert, lively. This is an example of a word which has 
deteriorated in meaning, pert in modern use means ‘ forward 

‘ saucy 

14. ‘ Hanish melancholy entirely from this time and place of 
happy rejoicings.’ 

15. The pale companion, melancholy. An example of per- 
sonification. pale implies sadness, liispiriledness, death. 

pomp, i.e. of the wedding celebrations. 

16. ‘ Instead of coming to you as a lover, I came to you as an 
enemy in the first place.’ Hut note the brevity, clearness, and 
picturesejueness of Shakespeare’s words, one of the secrets of his 

17. doing thee injuries, i.e, in taking her captive. 

18. in another key, in a fashion entirely different. The metaphor 
is from music, and is one freely used by the music-loving Shake- 

19. triumph, prolvibly used with the old Roman idea of pageants, 
processions, festivities. The Roman triumph was a procession 
celebrating the return to Rome of a victorious general ; cf. Julius 
Ctesar, i, I. 34 : “ We make holiday to see Cxsar, and to rejoice in 
his triumph.” 

27. bosom, heart. 

28. The repetition of the thou expresses his anger and contempt. 

rhymes, love verses. 

31. feigning, insincere. Ly.sander is accused of pretending to 
love Ilermia very passionately, so ns to win her young affections. 
Cf. Amiens’ song in ^Is ]'o/i Like //, ii. 7. iSi : 

“ Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.” 

33. gawds, trinkets, ornaments. 

conceits, gifts carefully chosen to win her fancy. 

34. Knacks, an obsolete wonl for ‘trinkets’, ‘ knick-knacks \ 

messengers, ‘ these l>eing attentions which influence greatly 
the mind of a soft and impressionable girl.’ 

35. This line, with its balanced phrases and antithetical form, is 
characteristic of the earlier blank-verse form used by Shakesj>eare, 

Scene i] 


^ 1 ^ 

One finds it in Rickard 11 ^ for example, more frequently than in 
Julius CcEsar^ and it is absent from Othello. It is therefore not to 
be overlooked in assessing the metrical evidence of the date of the 
composition of a play. Cf. 1 . 92. 

38, The student should compare the form, manner, and general 
subject-matter of Egeus’ speech with that of Desdemona’s father 
{Othello, i. 3. 94 f.) in somewhat similar circumstances; and note 
the strength of treatment (choice of what is essential, brevity, &c.), 
in the later play. 

41. privilege, right of a citizen of Athens. The root meaning of 
the word is ‘private {i.e. peculiar) law’, a law shared by anyone 
who belongs to the body of citizens. 

Athens, the city state of which Theseus was ruler. 

42. As, that since. 

44 * our law. The law of Athens provided for this absolute 
parental power. 

46. Hermia, most frequently a dissyllable. 

The duke shows wisdom as well as courtesy in this speech. 

be advised, consider the matter well; be careful. 

49 - as a form in wax; another of Shakespeare’s favourite 
metaphors. Its wealth of detail is a mark of his dramatic ap- 
prenticeship period. Cf. 1 . 5, note. 

51* leave, let it remain as it is. 

53 * The scansion of these two half-lines reveals the perfect blank - 
form; but as the dramatist becomes more skilful he employs 
this broken line to indicate either haste, by overlapping, or doubt, 
by a hiatus. Cf. ii. i, 248, note. 

54 * wanting, ‘ since he lacks the approval of your father’. 

56. but, only. 

59 * bold, courageous enough to speak in this company. Shake- 
speare’s women are always made bold by love, although they are 
at the ^me time ever watchful of their womanly modesty. Desde- 
mona is pure white in innocence ; Cordelia is first roused to defend 
herself when her modesty, not her filial affection, is impugned; and 
tbe slightly sketched Jessica protests against holding a candle 
to her shame. They act upon instinct, not reason. 

60. ‘ Nor how it may be in keeping with my woman’s propriety 
and reserve.’ 

‘To voice my inmost inclinations publicly and among great 
people.’ ^ t' s 

65* die the death, suffer death, the punishment for filial dis- 

67* question, e.xamine your affections very carefully. 



[Act I 

68. Know of your youth, put the matter clearly before yourself, 
especially tlic fact that you are still a young girl with all your life 
before you. 

blood, passions. 

70. livery, the dress and condition. 

71. in shady cloister mew'd, cooped up in some enclosed 
house of religion, mew'd was used of hawks, and the sporting term 
became general. shady has none of the modern associations of 
‘pleasant’, ‘agreeable’. 

72. sister, the usual religiovis term for a nun; so ‘sisterhood’. 

73. This is one of Shakespeare’s most wonderful lines, and its 
merit is due more than a little to the choice of epithets, ‘ faint 
‘cold’, ‘fruitless’. The ‘chanting’ of the ‘hymns’ suggests the 
solemnity and peacefulness of the scene; while ‘faint’ denotes 
the quiet, retiring, nieditative character of the singers. The other 
epithets jjerhaps imply that the sincere devotion of the sisters is less 
u.seful to the world than the domestic life. Like R. L. Stevenson, 
who sings of “sowing gladness in the |)copled lands”, Shakespeare 
is not a very great admirer of “cloister’d virtue”. 

The reference to the moon suggests the worship of Diana, the 
virgin gcxldess, of I. 89. 

74-5. These lines, like the more familiar instance at ii. 1. 155- 
64, are probably a compliment to Elizabeth, the maiden queen of 

74. blood, passions, as in 1. 68. 

75. pilgrimage; the metaphor which comp;\res the life of a nun 
to a pilgrimage is entirely in keeping with the medimval character 
of the whole picture. 

77. withering expresses the long slow life of the religiatse, 
thorn, rose tree. 

78. in single blessedness, in holy and virginal devotion to 
God’s service. The phrase is commonly used now to denote the 
unmarried state. 

81. ‘ To the lorilship of that man (Demetrius), to whose undesired 

84. my love, my beloved one, IIip|x>lyta. 

89. Diana, the classical goddess of hunting, was the daughter of 
Jupiter and laitonn, os Apollo was the son. She was i>ermilted by 
her father to live a life of perpetual celilwicy; and to ensure this 
she devoted herself to hunting, attended only by nymphs. The 
patroness of chastity, she is frequently identified with the moon. 

protest, register a vow. (The root meaning; from Latin 
testisy a witness.) 

92. Cf. 1 . 35, note. 

Scene x] 



96. render, render to. 

xoo. possess’d, in worldly goods and wealih. 

101-2, ‘ I am his equal in fortune, if not his better.’ 
vantage, advantage. 

103. which is more, what is of greater importance. Note the 
tendency to alliteration in these lyrical lines. 

105. prosecute, follow up (the root is Latin sequor^ I follow); 
endeavour to accomplish. 

X06. * I say it to his very face.’ 

107, Nedar’s daughter; we know nothing of any original of 
this story. Cf. iv. i. 167-70. 

X08. soul, heart, affections. 

109. ‘She worships him like a devotee; she worships him as 
her god, idolizes him.’ 
no. spotted, wicked. 

X12. spoke, spoken. 

114. lose, forget; ‘it slipped my mind’. 

116. schooling, advice, instructions. The rather transparent 
and artificial device by which the stage is cleared for the lovers is 
additional evidence of the apprentice hand of the playwright. 

117. arm yourself, make up your mind; become reconciled to 
the idea of yielding to your father’s wishes. Cf. Antonio’s words 
in The Merchant of Venice^ iv. i. 258; “I am arm’d and well 

1 18. Note the alliteration. 

To fit, to accommodate, bring in line. 

120. extenuate, relax, mitigate. 

122. what cheer, an archaic expression. It conveys at 
Theseus’ apology to his betrothed for his neglect of her, and his 
assurance of thoughtful care. 

**3- go along, accompany me. 

X25. Against, in preparation for : another old-fashioned con- 

126. nearly, closely, particularly. 

127. desire, i.e. to serve you. 

X29. How chance, how does it happen that ? 

the roses, the charming colour which is part of Hermia s 

130. Belike, most probably. 

131- Beteem, give, supply. 

132. Ay me! an interjectional phrase : alas! 



[Act I 

132. for aught that, so far as I have reach 

134. A Very famous line: the metaphor that of the flowing of a 

135* ‘ Ihit either the two young people who loved were of 
different social rank. . . .’ 

136, O cross! O vexatious mischance! 

137. misgraffed, misplaced: the metaphor is from gardening, 
one of the most freejuent of Shakespeare’s figures. 

139. stood upon, depended ujx)n ; was to he decided by. 

146. in a spleen, on a sudden motion, impulse. 

148. the jaws; again the concrete phrase. 

150. cross’d. Cf. Romeo and Juliet^ Prologue, 6: “a |xiir of 
star-cross’d lovers”. 

152, patience is to he scanned as a trisyllable. 

154. As due to love, Indonging to love as inevitably as the 
other accompaniments, dreams, v\;c. 

155* ‘ VVishes and tears, the usual accompaniments of unfortunate 

156. A good persuasion, convincing reasoning. Note the extra 
(eleventh) syllabic in this line; and see Essay on Metre, ixira, 13, 
p. 193. This irregularity is infreejuent in the earlier plaj's; and it 
may, in tliis particular case, be due merely to the proper name, as in 
1 . 16S. 

164. This is one of ShakcsjKarc’s natural indications of the 
passage of time in the jday. 

169. Cupid, according to classical mytholog)', the son of Mars 
and Venus, and the God of Love. It was the fashion in Renaiss- 
ance literature to intriKluce mythological allusions. 

171. Venus, the gtxldess of beauty and mother of love, rpicen 
of laughter, mistress of the graces and of pleasures. Her power 
over the heart was assisted by a girdle or zone, called a eesfus by 
the Romans.^ When worn this girdle gave l>cauty, grace, and 
elegance, excited love an<l rekindletl extinguished flames of passion. 
Juno herself, the <jueen of heaven, prospered in her love by wearing 
It. (Lemprierc. ) 

173. Dido, Queen of Carthage, befriended and fell in love with 
the Trojan, .Eneas. Desertetl by him, she had a funeral pile 
erected, upon which she stabbed herself in the presence of her 
people, .and was burned to death. Note that here, as in the fifth 
act of V'/ie iMerchant of Wniccy the lyrical character of the scene is 
heightened by these allusions to love and lovers ; while the emotional 
inlensily is marked by the change to rhyme. So Romeo’s lyrical 
declarations arc in rhyming quatrains, Romeo and Juliet, I. v. ^ f. 

177. appointed, ‘the rendezvous which you have fixed’; the 
place which you have already indicated (1. 166), 


178. meet with. The * with ’ is usually dropped in modern 
English ; but it is retained in constructions like ‘ meet with disaster . 

179. Look . . . Shakespeare is invariably careful to give timely 
warning to his audience of the approach of an important personage. 
Being at once a playwright, stage-manager, and actor, he kept a 
watchful eye upon dramatic necessities. 

180. ‘Maj’ God prosper you ! Where are you going?’ 
x8i. that fair, that word fair. 

183. lode-stars, the stars, particularly the pole-star, which 
‘lead*, i.e. by which sailors steer. ‘ Your eyes are the stars which r 
guide Demetrius.* 

sweet air, your melodious voice. 

184. lark, celebrated for its sweet, tuneful, and joyful song. As 
it inhabits the moorlands it is particularly well-known to the lonely 
shepherd, whose work takes him there. One recalls the Ettrick 
Shepherd’s lines beginning, “ Bird of the wilderness ”. 

185. wheat is green, i.e. in the pleasant spring season. The 
most familiar beauty of the English spring is the hawthorn blossom, 
white and red. All this speech is purely lyrical. 

x86. favour, appearance, features, 
xgi. translated, transformed. 

193. ‘You influence the workings of Demetrius’ heart.’ 

194 - This kind of dialogue, which Don Armado in Leve s Labout^s 
Lost^ calls the “snip, snap, quick and home” dialogue, is freejuent 
in earlier Elizabethan drama, the antithesis giving added enfect to 
the points. 

205. paradise ; the original Paradise was the Garden of Eden, 
occupied by Adam and Eve before their fall. Thus, a place of 
supreme happiness and bliss. 

206. graces, divine attributes. 

208. unfold, reveal, disclose. 

209. Phoebe, a name given to Diana, and to the moon, of which 
she was goddess. Cf. 1 . 89. 

2X0, the watery glass, the clear water of lake or river reflecting 
the moon. So the light of the moon upon the dewdrops clinging to 
the grass transforms them into pearls. Another lyncal oulburs 
(cf. 1. 185, note), with some fine examples of the well-chosen epitne . 

2X2. The soft and flickering shining of the moon is often a prelude 
to the elopement of lovers. Cf. Keats’ The Eve of St. Agnes. 

215. The primrose (prime, i.e. first) is one of the earliest of the 
flowers that bloom in the spring. Its companions are the snowdrop, 
the crocus, and the daffodil, “ that come before the swallow dares, 
and take' the winds of March with beauty”. Its colour is a pale 
yellow, thus ‘faint*. 


216. Cf. the words of the lover Orsino in Twelfth Night (Act i. l. 
40) : 

“ Away before me to sweet beds of flowers, 

Love-thovights lie rich when canopied with l)Owers.” 

counsel sweet, loving, intimate communion. 

2i8. ‘ Resolutely turn our backs upon Athens for ever.’ 

222. Keep word, be true to your promise. 

223. lovers’ food, lovers are starved when they do not sec each 

226. ‘ Isn’t it remarkable how certain persons have so much more 
happiness in life than others!’ 

227. Through Athens, i.e. throughout Athens; ‘by the common 
consent of the citizens of Athens’. 

229. He will not; she implies that he is obstinately disregardful 
of public opinion on the point. 

230-3. ‘ And as his judgment is wrong in loving I U rmia, so do I in 
the same way err in judgment in loving him ; those who look through 
the glasses of love cannot judge by the ordinary standards. The 
real value of a thing is quite diflerenl from the exaggerated value 
which love puls upon it.’ 

234. Cf. the song in The Merchant of Venice (iii. 2. 63), beginning : 

“ Tell me where is fancy bred. 

Or in the heart, or in the head?” 

236. taste; a substantive. ‘ I>ovc has no taste of {i.e. is entirely 
devoid of) judgment.* 

237. figure, signify, represent, symlK>lizc. 

238. Cupid is represented in pictures and sculpture as a little 
smiling cherub. 

239. beguiled, led astray, deluded, imposed uixm. 

240. ‘ As frolicsome urchins go back upon their word for mis- 
chiefs sake.’ 

242. eyne, the archaic plural of eye. Cf. ‘kinc’. 

243. only mine, mine alone. * He swore innumerable vows 
that he lovcrl only me.’ 

244. ‘ When he came umler the influence of Ilermia’s fascination.* 
This rather ingenious development of the idea in hail illustrates 
Professor Sir Walter Raleigh’s remark that Shakespeare was from 
the first “a lover of language, Iwindying words like tennis-balls, 
adorning his theme ‘with many holiday and lady terms*, proving 
that a sentence is but a cheveril glove to a good wit, so quickly 
the wrong side may be turned outward’* {Shakespeare'^. Note the 

Scene x] 



245. >His love for me departed and the vows he had sworn were 
forgotten, as snow departs when the sun shines on 1 . 

246. go tell, go and tell, go in order to tell. 

248. intelligence, information given by me. , , . , 

249. ‘If he thanks me, I shall have gained so 

from him, but at a very heavy price (because I don t want him g 

after Herinia at all).’ . . v, fr.r 

250. ‘I intend to accompany him into the wood 

Hermia. By so doing I shall enjoy his company ( , ^ 

but at the same time I fear I shall merely increase my pangs of love 
(enrich my pains), knowing upon what errand he 

The soliloquy is an important dramatic device ^ 

hand, invaluable in the case of plays like Hamlet 

of character. He also employs it as * • -1 voicinc 

audience wise Here, however, it is chiefly ly * 

Helena’s passion. 

Scene 2. 

This scene, which discusses the production 
the many proofs in the dramas of Shakespeare of is , 

well as familiarity with, acting; so much so that 

was an actor-playwright as well as a poet. In a soon- 

scenes, and speeches like that of Hamlet to the P , .jj^yg 

taneous metaphors from acting which crop up repea e y 
make such an assumption very obvious. . 

The names of the citizens are English in 
element of burlesque in them which we get also m associates 

A Quince is a small fruit used in preserving. 

itself with his trade of bellows-mending ; while a names in 

used by weavers. Snug, Snout, and Sta>^veling are names 

which the farcical, ridiculous ’r ,1,., tailor 

pressing the traditional and proverbial pitifulness 

“ Nine tailors make a man.” , , . , 

These names are our earliest indication of the humour w 
are to extract from these amateur theatricals. 

3. scrip, the scroll or list of actors. 

4. which, in modern English who ; an examp e o i^a 

English. Cf. “Our Father which art in heaven. j . 

5. through all Athens, t\e. selected from the entire o y 

citizens. , 

interlude, from the Latin inter, between, and to p ay. 

6. The humour of Shakespeare’s clowns often this 

gruities, such as the strange juxtaposition of day and g 


7. treats on, i.e. treats of, in modern English. 


rchB.o“r.''.VMi?y f-- 

lo. For the story of Pyramus and Thisbe see Appendix E, p 174. 

net’dr^r'r‘’ don't crowd anti bunch yourselves to- 

gclhcr (as shy, ruslic, amateur actors would naturally do). 

14 - Nick, short for Nicholas, a common proper name The devil 

“ O thou ! whatever title suit thee, 

Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie.” 

(Hurnss ^Mr^ss lo the Dc'il.) 

with-ru®dc ch.Vra«;r"“"'''"‘'’'' " inaccuracy in keeping 

19- ask, rcijuirc. 

audicnc:te\° eir ey'es'hfwUph.g:"’ 

21. To the rest, come to the others on the list. 

pki“y ■th'’c“lrart“of a'tyranh'-" ''-■'"I’‘''n’nient suited to 

rarely, with extreme success. 

■■ wiTstS 

quite literally with the neaninry of ‘ v T . 

Botton. it int^ltes the vtolcnTe" w:,*:ich^acc”i;;?s\vreckrng:'''^ 

to b^rak’ip! whfch dcsboy!''*' liehtning which cause things 

■ sountfingVe"™ fo, ‘ji.j'il’, n>'i>cration and 

heightens, rather than for their sensin'' " <ltnietcr line 

nnfainiha*'r word. ' Phocbui’‘ca'r mispronunciation of an 

sun. and brother of Dtana i 7 go) P .tn '' “'n 

which signifies brightness ami ^inl m called I hoebus, a word 
because the ancients i)ictnr#'/l th / ^nclour. Car means chariot^ 
heavens by the sun-god. ^ ^ chariot driven across the 

exinessb^!"'’ ‘ make or tnar ’ is a common 

rendirid'foohs'ln^ IhUUnnVt’vram‘' d'f ^ ‘>”‘"‘••^<1 nnd thus 

fashion, as seen elsewhere; e r i'dmiimH. lUizabcthan 

presilld mid hfc ^ ■CiiSdi’^Attl iime'S^^n^^^ 

Scene 2] 



birth Clotko held the distaff, Lachesis spun out the events and 
actions of his life, and Atropos cut the thread of life with a pair of 

32. lofty, in true tragic style. 

33. vein, the mood and style. Cf. ‘in philosophic vein’. 

36. ‘You must assume the part of Thisbe.’ 

41. That’s all one, that is immaterial, it does not matter. 

42. speak as small, pitch your voice in the treble tones of a 

43 - Shakespeare’s prose retains most of the characteristics of his 
poetry — antithesis and balance, alliteration, figurative language. 
But it retains also its rhythm, which is rather remarkable. In this 
scene, for instance, which is undoubtedly prose, we find iambic 
lines of various lengths, e.g.'. 

“An I may hide my face let me play Thisbe, too” 

“Call forth your actors by the scroll” (tetrameter). 

“And meet me in the palace wood, 

A mile without the town ” (ballad measure). 

“We shall be dogged with company, 

And our devices known ” (ballad measure). 

as well as the ordinary blank verse rhythm : 

“ Some of your French crowns have no hair at all.” 

This iambic rhythm characterizes the prose of all the plays of Shake- 
speare ; it is therefore not only a reliable lest of authorship, but also 
evidence of material value in support of the orthodox view of scholars 
that the plays are largely by one hand. 

44 * Thisne. Bottom speaks in a lisping voice, mimicking a 
woman’s tones. 

49 ‘ Robin, a common and familiar form of the Christian name 
Robert ; e,g. Robin Hood, Robin Gray, Robin Redbreast, and 
Robin Goodfellow in this play. A shorter form is found in Rob 

52. tinker, an itinerant^ mender of pots and pan s; a humble 
worker in tin. ' 

57 ‘ pray you, I pray you. 

59 ‘ extempore, from the Latin ex tempore out of time; with- 
out study or premeditation. 

66. to hang us, to have us sentenced to death. 

68. if that, a relic of the French conjunctional form, brought 
across by the Normans, and shortened in due course by the dropping 
of the ‘ that 


73- To divert Bottom from his desire to play all the nartc 

o.|. » XE S’,;.::Ks"i,j-,r,E-s.& 

8o. discharge, play the part. 

8g. devices intentions with rcgar.l to the performance, 
go. draw a bill, write out a list. 

Act II. — Scene 1. 

Note the lyrical freedom of the verse. 

4. pale, an enclosure. 

5. flood, a river; a frequent use in poetry. 

8. the fairy queen, Titania. 

me®ado°wt'’ found in 

10. cowslips, little yellow flowers with long thin stallt« r^f i», 


12. fairy favours, presents given by the fairies, 
dowers. •hese s,>o,s u,>on the 
18. the king, Oberon. See Appendix A, i>ar. 14. 
adfmive®'’"^ fierce and angry.’ wrath is an 

23. changeling, some child who has been stolen hv »k« r ■ • 

25. tram, retinue. Cf. the lines in Marmion (vi, 13) : 

“The train from out the castle drew 
But Marmion paused to bid adieu.’’ 

Scene i] 



25. trace, wander through. 

27. Note the trochaic inversion and movement of this line. 

28. grove or green, woodland or open meadow. 

29. ‘Or in the brightness of the glittering stars.’ 

31. acorn-cups. The acorns which grow on the oak are in 
cup-shaped receptacles averaging about half an inch in length. 
This gives an idea of the size of Shakespeare’s fairies. See 
Appendix A, par. 21. 

them, i.e. themselves. 

32. making, build, form. Cf. ‘a man of slender make*. 

34. Robin Goodfellow. Read Appendix A, pars. 17-20. 

35- villagery, the villages; a collective term coined by Shake- 
speare. ^ 

36. quern, a small hand-mill for grinding corn. 

37* Cause the farmer’s wife to toil laboriously and in Vain at the 
Churn, trying to make butter.’ 

38. ‘ Keep the ale from fermenting.’ 

39« harm, misfortunes, untoward accidents. 

considered to be a wise policy to 

fn reason that 

in Scotland they were referred to as the “good people”. 

43- of the night, the fairies always came out at night. 

48. very, true, exact. From Latin ventSt true. 

49. bob, bounce up, knock. 

elderly woman. The epithet wisest is used in 
p n satire one who pretends to the greatest wisdom*. 

54* * cough, due to the sudden exertion. 

ously* **^^^*^** ‘Then all in the company laugh uproari- 

increase. In old English the plural termination of 

Present Indicative Mood was -en, and such 

BCTxo .*®[**» ^ Jbey slowly disappeared, were to be found occasionally, 
especially m the dialects. 

57* wasted, spent, passed. 

“Wel/met”*^' negative form of the old greeting, 

62. * I have refused to live any longer with him as his wife.* 

63. wanton. The mutual recriminations of the fairies, like their 
quarrels, are not to be taken very seriously. 

64* I know when, I know of occasions when. 

66. in the shape of, dressed as, and having the appearance of. 


“ When shepherds pipe on oaten straws ” 


wtL high and ttoufshocr^indT/linr Hippolyla would 

masculinity, the .nanLhn^s, oT ( ue‘r;7Sh?\"''"^ 

contrasted with her own fc.uininc daintinils Amazons, as 

73- ‘ Wess the marriage union.’ Cf. iv. i. 87, and v. 1. ago 
77' glimmering, a good descriptive epithet. 

roh^r‘"of" At"!ca cailed^'C"’ "‘"t ‘m'^Shlcr of a famous 
Appendix I) Theseus killed. See 

afte? he'^reft'"'iad'ne.''"®''’ “ l-y Theseus 

80. Scan : With Ar | i ad | ne and | An ti | o pa. 

81. forgeries, deliberately false statements 

epftttf “cri:"r:=‘3r "[.f Paled "'"-'-o-n 

fanciful. ^ is |XK'licaI and 

Sfi' “"‘I '>y ‘l>c sea.shore ’ 

86. to the, to the sound of the. 

89. As in revenge, as if out of revenge 
fev^ls fhm 'a?e‘ contagi^:;. -'-m. and 

village.f’f‘"®’ “ A-,VZenx. ii. 3. .8, o .^xir pelting 

a chmalS;Vthl“:",i:l 'he passage is 

explored very fully all the possihilhiU^^f S*^^*^espeare 

appreciating (he value of puns nlavs nnr. ^ language, 

antithesis, variety in nie.r'llTntl'l^^rliro? h^rtii^'l^ 

nsls^hel'’:l, '1 :^,!’"'^, ■" "ooe'-’ Shakespeare 
(l alin. fe„„, I holdr Th^f'^eir"*'! ^ 

type-of which the “erring and «tra' I'"'''* 'his 

fanniiar instance-would argue in the dm®u,atisTrlnt?w|"gf„Vrhe 

Scene i] 




d-ice known as VS^rVed Epiih P-* 

are wanton (i.e. playfnl, sportive), not the green. 

‘ monlu do"not'“Lir.d^nT'”" P’^" 'hat 

do they enjoy the pastimes wh'ir)7 meaning lack), nor 

such J the singTnl of “■''i'nanly add to the joy of winter, 

evenings tL Elizabethan^ ’ hymns to pass the long 

Shakes'peare’s p 1 ays'Tbu;dami;'p™v:r 
104. Pale, hazy, ‘a watery moon’. 

lortWouTh'’- ' ““n “ ‘^"'P “healthy’. 

Of scansion. ^ ‘"' 0 “eh; the dissyllable is used for purposes 

Note the profis^V^of suhah^A that frost comes in summer, 

the following lines* 0,^.1 »v ® ^^pr^ssive epithets in these and 
trochaic swing of I* 108 **tusical sweetness, increased by the 

“ an old man’ Winter, which is here personified 

verdure. ’ ^ of hair as the frozen ground is of 

flowers. cnapiet, fragrant, sweet - smelling wreath of 

childing. Note the appositeness and fullness of this epithet. 

frequtnt^h!*Ql^^ middle stresses is quite 

•ed^to the verse, and its trochaic possibilities have 

Rev A ®n®”!?**oiation of a new theory of his versification by the 
theory* this speech supports the 

severelv ^ 1 • change of subject at 1. 115 is marked by a 

*^iy Jambic movement in the verse. ^ 

*16. debate, quarrel; as frequently in Shakespeare. 

** 7 * original, origin or originators. 

thar'* * should even begin to worry about 

122. the fairy land, i.e. all the wealth of fairyland. 

(lnd .)0 


123. votaress, one who had taken vows (of service with Titania). 

124. spiced, sweet-smelling, fragrant. 

126. Neptune was one of the sons of Saturn and the brother of 
Jupiter and I Into. When Saturn was overthrown Neptune trained 
the kingdom of the sea. He is usually pictured as holding a trident 
in his hand, seated in a chariot made of a shell, drawn by sea-horses. 

127. ‘ Watching the merchant-vessels as they sailed away over 

the sea. •' 

129. wanton, in l>olh senses of the word. 

130* ‘She followed the shipjs, swimming in a very pretty fashion.* 

131- my young squire, the lovely boy who became the Queen s 
attendant, and the cause of the quarrel with Oberon. ^ 

140. patiently, i.e. without quarrelling. 

142. spare, t.e. avoid, keep away from. 

144- Cf. 1 . 122, note. 

145 - chide downright, quarrel outright. 

lcisuSv'.,‘!o,!';r"’ femarkable for ils 

power -E O, T ■ (ha„ for any dranmtic 

poNNer. ihese ijuahties mark the youthful writer. 

X 5 J* dulcet, melodious, 

152. rude. Note again the appropriateness of the epithet, 
civil, (piiet, calm. 

seak"*' l^ne'ish form of ■ mermaid ’ (Ualin, ,nan, the 

156. cold moon. Cf. i. i. 73, 

157 - Cupid. Cf. i. I. 169. note. 

all arm'd, fully equipped with i,is bow and arrows, 
certain, sure, careful, delilierate. 

158. fair vestal, i.c. beautiful virgin, maiden. 

160. As it should, with force, strength, so great as to. 
loi. might, was able to, 

ElirabetM.'’'"^' 'o nraidenhoo,! (Qncen 

164. A line very frciiuently quoted, uarllv for itc . 

jxirlly, no doubt, for ils alliterative jingle. Fancy-free untouched 

by love, not m the power of love. ’ 

166. western, i.e. English, as in 1 . 15S. One theorv- saw in 
Uie lutlc western flower an allusion to liicester’s secret^marriiJe 
wi h Amy Robert, which forms the main plot of Scott’s AV«/wX 

^ ^ compliment to Queen EliialKlh is in 

work' of compliment to l>e enshrined in the immortal 

rk of the greatest poet of the nation), but anything more is 


Scene i] 



ingenuity hardly worth the trouble. What we do see is that the 
dramatist is a youthful imitator of the customary flattering references 
of his contemporaries. 

167. The purple spots on the Heartsease Pansy are poetically 
thought to be caused by Cupid’s bolt wounding it. 

174. leviathan, whale. These large fish are fast swimmers, and 
must have appeared even more so to the slowly-voyaging travellers 
of the sixteenth century than to-day. 

175* ‘ Pll travel right round the world ’. The figure of speech is 
quite expressive. 

176. forty is used fairly frequently by Shakespeare with no very 
definite numerical significance. As Byron points out in Don Juajiy 
it is a favourite number. The Israelites were in the wilderness forty 
years, Moses was on Mount Sinai forty days, while Christ’s stay in 
the desert was for a similar period. Everybody knows of Ali Baba’s 
forty thieves. 

xyS- The purpose of this soliloquy is infortnalive and explanatory, 
and it is a very convenient dramatic device. In plays like Hamlet 
it is also used for character analysis. 

Having once, as soon as I have obtained. 

. *®x. busy, restless, constantly doing something. The meaning 
IS much the same as ‘ meddling ’. 

182. the soul of love, the most intense and passionate love. 

183. this charm, the magical herb. 

X84. another herb. Cf. iv. i. 67-72. 

187. conference, with a more general meaning than in modern 
usage; conversation, talk together. 

190. slayeth. Hermia is killing him by not reciprocating his 

19X. were stolen unto, had escaped unobserved and unnoticed. 

192. Shakespeare can rarely resist the temptation to pun. Cf. 

}• 9 S> note. One recalls Antonio’s words. The Merchant of Venice^ 
IV. 1. 274; 

“ For if the Jew do cut but deep enough. 

I’ll pay it presently with all my heart.” 

X95. *The magnet attracts iron, so do you attract me. Don’t 
think, however, that I have merely the qualities of iron — hardness, 
stubbornness, obstinacy. The magnet also attracts steel. Think 
of me as possessing the qualities of steel — truth, fidelity, loyalty.’ 

X97. leave you, if you give up. 

Antonio in The 

“Say how I lov’d you, speak me fair in death.” 

speak you fair, an expression used also by 

Merchant of Venice^ iv. i. 269:— 



203. This mctaplior occurs with fair frecjucncy in Shakespeare, 
usually emphasizing, as here, the cur-like qualilies of “man’s faithful 

205. but as, as no better than. 

209. respect, value; ‘a place highly esteemed by me’. 

212-3. A typical example of what Don Armado in leave's Labont^s 
Lost, calls the “snip-snap, quick and home” dialogue, which the 
youthful Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists atTecled. 
The liveliness results partly from the antithesis, partly from the play 
upon meanings. Cf. i. i. 194, note. 

214. impeach, sec Glossary. Demetrius makes use of an argu- 
ment which would come home to every good woman created by 
Shakespeare. Womanly modesty is innate in each. They love, 
but are never immodest. It is fortunate that Shakespeare preceded 
the vogue of Sex Tragedy. Cf. i. i. 59, note. 

217. the opportunity of night, the risk of attack and dishonour 
which you run in this darkness and solitude. 

218. Shakespeare means here that men might easily yield to their 
base desires if they found an unprotected woman in the dark, alone, 
and at their mercy. 

220. privilege, protection. ‘ I risk coming here because I trust 
to your manly honour and upright character.* 

224. in my respect, in my eyes. 

all the world ; with a glance at the lover’s phrase, “ You are 
all the world to me.” Cf. the old song : 

“ Her voice is low .and sweet 

And she’s a’ the world to me, 

And for bonnie Annie I^urie 
I’d lay me doon and dee.” 

227. brakes, thickets. 

230. the story. Daphne was a nymph of whom the god Apollo 
became enamoured. She listened to his addresses in fear and 
trembling, and sought by flight to escape his imjxirtunities. The god 
pursued her; but Daphne, entreating the assistance of the other 
gods, was changed by them into a laurel. Apollo crowned his head 
with the leaves of the laurel, and ordered that that tree should for 
ever be sacred to his divinity. 

231. holds the chase, pursues, l>ccomes the hunter. 

232. the griffin, a terror-inspiring aninml of the myths and 
legends, supposed to have an eagle’s head, wings, and forelegs, and 
the body of a lion. One sees the Griffin nowadays in heraldr>' and 
in mediajval sculpture. 

235. questions, pleading, talk. 

236. ‘ That 1 shall not do you harm in the wood.’ 

Scene 2] 



240. ‘By your wicked tieatment of me. a woman, you cast a slur 
upon all womanhood.’ 

241-6. The rhymed couplets indicate the end of the scene and the 
exit of the speakers ; but Oberon tells us also that he has definitely 
interested himself in the love-tangle of these mortals. 

248. In this play Shakespeare has not taken advantage of the 
dramatic possibilities offered by the half-line in dialogue to 
convey the feeling of anger and impatience, or doubt and hesitancy, 
in the mind of the speaker. Instances occur in later plays, 

King Lear ^ i. i. 226, where Cordelia hastens to deny the imputation 
of immodesty, and The Tempest, v. i. I 7 i> voicing Ferdinands 
passionate denial that he plays Miranda false. 

249-56. One of the most celebrated lyrical passages in Shake- 
speare. Note that he has chosen rhyme and not blank verse as the 
most suitable and adequate setting. 

thyme, a small green shrub with a fragrant smell, found often 
in gardens, blows, blooms. 

250. the nodding violet. The violet is a little flower which 
hides amongst its leaves. Having a slender stalk it shakes readily 
in the wind, The epithet nodding somehow suggests also the 
humility of this little retiring flower. 

254* Note the trochaic inversion for metrical variety. Cf. ii. i. 27. 

dances and delight, i.e, delightful dances, an example of the 
construction known as Hendiadys — one idea expressed by two nouns 
joined by a conjunction, or noun and adjective. 

255* ‘There the snake casts her beautifully marked and speckled 

256. Weed, garment. Cf. ii. 2. 2, note. 

257. streak, anoint gently. 

258. fantasies, fancies. 

263. May be, may chance to be. 

266. fond on, dote on, be foolishly in love with. 

267. look . . . , be sure to come to meet me. 

Scene 2 . 

X. roundel, here a dance in a circle. Usually it signifies a poem 
with a repetition or * round ’. 

2. third part. As with size so also with time, the fairies have a 
basis of calculation which differs from that of mortals. Cf. ii. !■ 256, 
“Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in”; also 1 . 5 below. 

3 - canker, a destructive caterpillar or larva which eats into 
flowers. The fairies are concerned to protect one of the most 


Dcavitiful of flowers, singled out for special mention by Keats in his 
Ode to a : 

“ And mid-May's eldest child, 

I he coming musk-rose, full of dewy w inc, 

Tlie niurmurt)us haunt of flies on summer eves.” 

4. rere-mice, hats. 

6. I lie owl is a solemn creature of night, contrasting with the gay 
Jiight-lripping fairies. 

7. quaint spirits, trim, dainty, ethereal-like figures. 

8. offices, duties ; I^ilin, oj/i'ctum, a duty. 

9- The fairies single out as the enemies of their (hiccn such 
creatures as are likely to be hostile to the “little i^eople ” of the 

10. be not seen, keep out of sight. 

11. Newt, something like the lizard. 

blind-worm, or slow-worm, a creature resembling both the 
snake and the lizard. 

_ 16. Shakespeare’s delicate ir»>ny in this play apjx^ars in the situa- 
tion here; for desfiilc the fairies’ prayer.s, the very next moment sees 
Oberon practising spells and charms uix>n the gueen, the object of 
these prayers. It is the same spirit t)f irony which makes Demetrius 
say that “our wills are by our rcastin sway’d ” at the very moment 

when he falls under the influence of the irrational supernatural 
(11. 2. 1 15). ' 

20. spiders, supposed to be venomous, especially the field-spider, 
which would be indicated here. 

21. spinners, i.c. the spiders, which spin their webs. 

26. aloof, a}>art from the others on guard. 

28. ‘ Accept it as your lover.’ 

30. ounce, the panther or lynx, 
cat, the wild-cat. 

31. Pard, lco|)artl. 

32. ‘Upon whom your first glance will fall’; ‘who first meets 
your eye . 

34. vile, base. 

35 - Note that the excess of feeling in Ly.sander’s heart, brought 
nlwut by a .situation which is highly emotional, imixds him to 
acMress his lady-love in rhyming rpiatrains. When Romeo first 
addresses Juliet he also finds in rhyming quatrains the most fitting 
vehicle of his thoughts; from which it would seem clear that Shake- 
speare so identified himself with his characters that the ebb and 
flow of emotion is marked by a corresponding change in the medium, 
and that the variations are seldom accidental. Cf. i. i. 173, note. 


38. *And await the coming of daylight, which brings comfort to 

43. Cf. i. I. 59, note. The charm of Shakespeare’s women, 
which they all share, is their innate modesty. Cf. also 1. 2. 214, 

45. ‘ Do not misinterpret my innocent meaning 

46. conference, used as in ii. i. 187. 

49. ‘ Two hearts bound together by one pledge of mutual love.’ 

52. There is a pun here on the two meanings of ‘ ^ 

Hermia is alluding to it when she says that her lover riddles v y 
prettily”. Lysander is the true Elizabethan courtier. 

53. * It would not be at all in keeping with my birth and breeding 
to give Lysander the lie *. 

57. human, courteous, jiolite. The idea is found in the phrase 
“the study of the Humanities”. 

61-3. Another of the delicate little ironies in this play. 
a very short time Lysander’s love is transferred to Helena (1. 103J. 
Cf. 1. 16, note, above. 

65. half that wish. She wishes Lysander to share equally in 
all the good wishes which he has expressed. “The same to you 
is a less poetical equivalent. 

68. approve, test, prove. 

69. in stirring love, to excite, instil, beget love. 

71. Weeds. Cf. ii. 1. 264. 

74. sound, i.e. soundly. 

76. Pretty soul, dainty creature. ^ 

77- ‘Near this churl who is without politeness and 
kill-courtesy is a coinage, illustrating Shakespeare s habit of 
ing words to suit his needs. 

78. Churl, boor ; one entirely lacking in the social graces. t 
comes from the old>English word for ‘man’. 

79- owe, possess. Cf. Macbeth, i. 4- 10 ^ “To throw away the 
dearest thing he owed.’^ Modern English would use own . 

86. darkling, in the dark. Cf. Keats’ Ode to a NightingaU : 
“Darkling I listen.” 

87. ‘ Remain here, unless you wish to incur grave danger, 
desire to go on alone’. 

88. fond, foolish; but with perhaps a touch of the modern 

89. the lesser is my grace, the less is the consideration and 
favour extended to me. Note the antithesis. 

93* ‘ I am more miserable and weep oftener than she. 


97 - ‘Seek lo escape from me as though I were something un- 
natural.' ^ 

99. compare with, attempt to rival. 

r / through fire: in order to show his love and devotion. 
C t. y//6- ,]/errj’ irizt's 0/ lyiuiisor, iii. 4. 107: “A kind heart he 

hath : a woman woulil run through lire and water lor such a kind 
heart. ’ 

X04. Transparent, spotlessly pure and beautiful, and in addition 
innoeent; this language is the high-down, courlier-like speech of 

109. Lord, an exclamation : ‘ By I leavens ! ’ 

7 h 16 above. The irony consists in the fact that 

Dy.sandor s will has been swayed not by reason but by a magical 
ncri). Magic is tlic negation of reason. 

117-8. Note the double or feminine rhyme, 

118. ‘ Up lo now I have not been sutl'iciently mature in mind lo 
l)c able to reason.’ 

121. o’erlook, peruse. 

123- ‘Why must all this biting ridicule l>c directed against ix>or 
unlortunale me? * 

126. Note the emphasis conveyed by the Elizabethan double 

128. ‘ But you must also make a mock of my lack of charm,* 

129. troth, sooth, {xietical; obsolete in prose. 

132. gentleness, g<x)d breeding. 

133- of, by. 

- Cf. Kuhard II, i. 3. 236: “Things sweet to taste prove 

m digestion sour. v 

139 40. ‘ The man who abandons a false doctrine is often extra- 
ordinarily bitter against his old belief and eiuhusiaslic al>oul his 

V\ • 

142. ‘ Be hated by everyone, but most of all by me.’ 

He wishes his intellect, capacity, strength, &c., to assist 
liuii in his wooing of Helena, 

146. crawling serpent ; symbolical of the attack uixm her love, 
147* ‘ Alas for me ! I lave pity ujx)n me !* 

150. prey, attack upon me. 

15** removed? has he gone away from me? 

154- of all loves, for the sake of all love. 




Act ill. — Scene 1. 

1. ‘ Are we all here?* 

2. Pat, exactly according to arrangement. (Zi. King 

“ Pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy ! 

marvellous, exceedingly ; an instance of an adjective used for 
an adverb. Rustic speech is full of these grammatical lapses. 

4. hawthorn-brake, bush of hawthorn. 

we will, the grammatical uses of shall and 'will had not become 
stereotyped in Shakespeare’s time. 

do it in action, i,e. have a full-dress rehearsal. 

7. bully, my good friend ; a rustic epithet. 

9. will never please, will not be approved by the duke. 

11. answer, ‘What is your reply to that criticism?’ 

12. ‘By our Lady, a very grave criticism, and an alarming 

parlous is colloquial. 

13. when all is done, an idiomatic expression, ‘ after all 

14. to make all well, to solve this particular difficulty, get rid 
of this trouble. 

15. seem to say, i.e, state. 

20. put them out of fear, i.e. remove their anxieties. 

22. eight and six, a very common ballad measure, with which 
these rustics would naturally be very familiar. 

25. afeared, colloquial for ‘ afraid ’. 

27. ‘ I fear it, I assure you.’ 

consider with, ponder deeply over, almost * reconsider *. 

29, fearful wild-fowl. The joke lies in the fact that wild-fowl 
are very timid and easily scared. Cf. i. 2. 6, note. 

30. look to *t, take proper care in this matter. 

35- defect. This type of humorous mistake {defect for ^ 

found in the speeches of other Shakespearean characters 
Bottom, take themselves seriously, e.g. Dogberry in Much Ado 
About Nothing. 

37* my life for yours, I pledge my life to ensure your safety. 

38. it were pity. Bottom says: “You are judging ^^*^7 
harshly, you are not being fair to my sense of chivalry, if you think 
I should willingly terrify you.” 

45* This is another and perfect example of the blank^erse lines 
^ttered everywhere throughout Shakespeare’s prose. N^ only is 
« metrical, it is also musical with a trochaic movement. Cr. I. 
“And tell them plainly he is Snug, the joiner.” See i. 2. 43 * note. 



47. ‘ I‘in<l out whether there will be a good moon on the dale.* 
But according to the opening lines of the play there was to be a 
new moon. 

49. great chamber, the audience chamber, stale room. 

52. bush of thorns. Cf. v. i. 248-50, and note, 
lanthorn, the archaic form of ‘ lantern '. 

53. disfigure, i.e. figure. Cf. ‘defect’ in I. 35, above. 

55. Note the rhythmic swing of “ Eor Pyramus and Thisbe, says 
the story . ^ 

60. rough-cast, a coarse sort of plaster composed of lime and 
gravel or pebbles. 

63. may be, is possible, feasible. 

64. every mother’s son, a colloquial and idiomatic term for 
everybody ’. 

65. enter into, enter, penetrate. In modern idiomatic prose 
wc use the phrase in “Enter not into tonptalion ”, and similar 
expressions, with the meaning of ‘ refrain from ‘ have no dealings 

67. Who are these coarse rustic fellows who have taken ixissession 
of this forest glade?’ swaggering implies the confident moving 
about of the actors, the unrestrained talk “as if the place belonged 
lo them . * ^ 

68. cradle, bed ; a suitable word for a fairy’s couch. 

69. toward, just about to begin. 

71. stand forth, come forward lo the centre of the stage. 

72. The burlesque is clearly marked from the rest of the play 
by Its verses being m quatrains, as the “ Play within” in Hamlet 
stands out from the play proper on account of the “Cambvses vein” 
of Its blank verse. Shakespeare's changes in his mcdium'havc very 
frequently excellent dramatic justification. See i. 1. 173. note. The 
padded poverty of the verse of the burlcsrpte is also in keeping, 

And by and by I Will to thee appear.” ^ ^ * 

82. This quatrain is a striking proof of Shakesj^eare’s full appre- 
ciation of j)oetry, good poetry, and conlcm|>orary stylists. Kent’s 
speech m Ixar (ju 2. 1 1 1-4) is anolher proof* 

The parody of contemporary exuberances here consists partly in 
the entire unsuitability of such epithets as ‘radiant’, ‘lily-white’, 
and triumphant , partly in the similes employed, mrlly in the 

alliterative jingles, and partly in the ‘ekes’ and ‘vets’ to pad out 
the verses, ^ ^ 

84* brisky, for * brisk an obvious coinage* 

juvenali a j’outli; from I^tin juvcf^is^ young. 

86. Ninny, thus ridiculing the players as having a l«:lteracxmaint 
ance with ihe tnttuy simpleton) than with mytholc^y. 

Scene i] 



92. Bottom has the line all wrong as usual. 

95. Note again the change in the verse-form to indicate Puck s 
speeches. See 1 . 72, note, above. 

102. afeard, colloquial for ‘afraid’. Cf. 1 . 25, above. 

103. Another line which falls naturally into the swing of iambic 
verse. This is an Alexandrine. Cf. 1 . 45. above. 

107. bless thee ; may God save thee (and restore thee to human 

translated, changed. 

112. Note the rustic character of Bottom’s song. He sings of the 
birds common to the English fields and lanes. 

113. orange-tawny; cf. i. 2. 81. 

1 14. throstle, the thrush. 

116. Titania speaks in verse, contrasting with Bottom’s prose. 

117. finch, another common song-bird of English lanes. The 
sparrow, however, can scarcely be called a song-bird, although of 
its ubiquity there is no question. 

119. full many a; a phrase which is now found only in poetry, 
perhaps through its associations, e.g. with Gray’s Elegy \ 

“ Full many a gem of purest ray serene 

The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen. 

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.” 

mark, take note of. 

121. set his wit to, match his wit against. 

122. give a bird the lie, take the trouble to accuse an insig- 
nifleant creature like a bird of uttering falsehoods. 

never so, ever so frequently ; a collo<iuial use. 

124. note, voice. The humour arises from the certainty in our 
minds that Bottom roared out his song after his famous “ Ercles’ 
vein ”, with more of good grace than skill. 

125. enthralled to, drawn irresistibly to, enslaved by. 

125-6. Note the double or ‘feminine’ rhymes. See Essay on 
Metre, par. 13. 

126. thy fair virtue’s force, the power of your beauty. 

127. On the first view, at the very first glance, at first sight. 

X28. Note once more the rhythmic swing of Bottom’s prose, e.g, 
“and yet to say the truth, reason and love”, “ the more the pity 
that some honest neighbours”. Cf. 1 . 45, above. 

130. company, i.e. are not found together very frequently. 
Cf. the old saying that “a man cannot love and be wise”. 

131. honest; this epithet is at best merely formal. 


132. ‘ I can make a joke too when I want to.’ 

134- The double negative tells us that Bottom is an ignorant and 
ungrammatical rustic. 

138. rate, degree, rank, estimation. 

139. still, always. ‘ The beauties of the summer (the flowers, 
&c. ), attend upon me as their queen.’ 

142. jewels from the deep, pearls from the sea. 

144- Titania will make her lover as fairy-likc and ethereal as 

grossness, probably of bulk, but perhaps also of habits. 

149- ‘ Hop and gambol as you accompany Bottom everywhere.’ 

150. apricocks, apricots. Sec Glossary. 

152. humble-bees, from ‘hum’; an example of an onomnto- 
poetic word. Cf. also ‘bumble-bees’. 

*53- This night-taper wouUl be of the proper size for fairies to 
carry. Cf. ii. i. 256, and ii. 2. 5. Shakespeare is as careful of his 
dimensions as Swift with his Lilliputians. 

155. have, escort, bring, attend. 

156. painted, i.g. l>eauiifully coloured. 

160. ‘I your pardon sincerely.’ Note again the iambic 
rhythm of the speech. Cf. 1. 45, note. 

167. coinmend rne to, convey my salutations, ‘salaams’, to. 
Give my kind regards to. 

169. We note that the rustic Bottom is not fertile in phrase, nor 

has he an adaptable mind. He repeats the same old stereotyped 
lormula of greeting. 

177. wait upon, escort, accompany. 

181. A quatrain * rings down ’ the curtain. 

Scene 2. 

2. ‘ .And, next, I wonder what her glance first rested upon.’ Cf. 

II* 2* 

4. spirit ; scan as a monosyllabic, as frequently in Shakespeare. 

7. close, retired, private. 

consecrated, sacred, not to l>e intruded upon by anyone. 

9. A company of rough, ignorant, clownish working-men.’ 

booths, the predecessors of the modern shop; 
still to be found in markets and bazaars. 

13. shallowest thick-skin, stupidest l.lockhead. Perhaps this 

IS aniuher of Shakespeare s little ir,.nies-he was no denurcrat-that 

a niohs choice of leader usually lulls uixin the most ignorant of 
them all. 

Scene 2] 



13. that barren sort, that brainless crowd. For the balanced 
form of the line, see i. 1. 35» note. 

14. in their sport, i.e. during the progress of the rehearsal. 

19. they, his fellow-actors. 

20. These simple and easily appreciated similes tell us a little 

more about Shakespeare as a country boy. One notes also ^bat the 
simile is, if anything, more frequently found in the P * 

where no crowding thoughts find compressed expression in me p 

21. many in sort, in a great flock. Jackdaws, crows, aje 

shot at to scare them away from the harvest- fields, orchards, 

22. cawing; another example of an onomatopoelic word. v-. • 
iii. I. 152. 

23. Sever themselves, scatter, fly off in every direction. 

24. fellows, companions. 

27. their fears thus strong, their acute terror. 

29-30. ‘ As they flee to escape their garments are caught by the 
undergrowth of the wood ; but they do not pause even to recover 
hat or release an entangled sleeve.* 

31. distracted fear; an example of the transferred epithet , ear 

which rendered them distracted ’. 

32. translated, changed in form. Cf. iii. i. 107. 

35- falls out, happens. 

38. took him sleeping, availed myself of the opportunity w en 
he was asleep. 

40. of force, necessarily. 

41. Stand close, keep hidden from them. 

44 - ‘ Address such harsh words to your enemy ; ‘ keep your 
bitter words for your foes.’ 

48. o’er shoes . . . , i.e. having committed one murder, commit 

the deep, sc. water ; the metaphor is from wading across a river. 

49* Such incomplete lines, although not very frequent in the 
earlier plays, have almost invariably a fairly obvious connection wi 
the corresponding dramatic action. Here Hermia pauses, me 
masters her grief, and goes on. Instances of the same kmd are 
found in Richard //, iv. i. 182; Jttlius Ccesar^ v. i. 5®» ^ * 

i. 5* t68 ; while in the last-named play and in Othello the incomple e 
line sometimes marks the change to a new line of thought. 

55- Antipodes, from Greek antiy against, pousy a foot. ^ 
5®* * There is no other explanation of the matter than that . . - 

58. Note the skill with which Demetrius borrows Hermia s words 
and twists their meaning to suit his own purposes. One can east y 



imagine that tlie courtiers of Queen Elizubetli were similarly in- 
genious in retort, t'f. ii. I. 212-3, and imte. 

6r. Venus, the beaulifvil planet of that name. This is his skilful 
reply to Ilennia’s reference to the sun and moon. 

62. ‘ How does this concern the fate of Lysander?’ 

65. Judging by the frecjucncy with which Shakespeare uses this 
expression of contempt, he does not appear to have appreciated fully 
the tlog as man’s faithful friend. Cf. ii. l. 203. 

69. look’d upon him. She means “returned glance for glance ”, 
like Eilzjames and Roderick Dhu ; ‘ stootl up against him 

70. O brave touch ! spoken ironically. ‘ A most courageous 
deed, truly ! ’ 

71. She implies that he is as treacherous as the de.idly snake, 
worm, used in a sense similar to Cleopatra’s 

“ Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there 
That kills and pains not.” 

(Antony and Cleo/'atra, v. 2. 242). 

76. Note how the effect of the dialogue is heightened by the 
second speaker’s contpleting bt^th the couplet and the rhyme of the 

81. Scan whether as a monosyllable. 

82. * It is useless to keep with her while she is in this intolerant 

85- ‘ Grief is harder to endure when sleeplessness comes along 
with it.’ ^ 

87. tender, offer. 

make some stay, tarry for some lime. 

88. quite, entirely. 

90. ‘The result of your mistake will inevitably Ixi.* 

93. confounding oath on oath, breaking their vows of love (as 
the lovers in this play arc doing). 

95. look thou find, make sure that you find. 

96. fancy-sick, love-sick. Cf. fancy-free, ii. i. 164. 
cheer, countenance. 

_ 99- against, in preiviration for; an obsolete use, although some- 
times the phrase “against his coming” is used. 

100. Note Puck’s characteristic change of metre. 

101. Tartar’s bow. Tartary included in olden times the country 

of the Parlhians who were celebrated for their skill with Irow and 

102. Cf. ii. 1. 165-9. 

106. ‘ Let lier appear as l>eautiful.* 



109. ‘ Plead with her to give you comfort in your love fever. 

112. mistook, mistaken. 

114. fond pageant, foolish show or spectacle. 

115. A very frequently quoted line. 

121. ‘Which happen perversely.* 

122. Note the stanza form of six lines for Lysander s appeal anc 
Helena’s reply. Cf. ii. 2. 35 » note. 

X23. never come in tears, are never accompanied by weeping. 

127. badge of faith, mark of sincerity ( the tears). 

131. i.e. the two vows will balance each other. 

X33. tales, fiction. 

X39, muddy, i.e. in comparison, 
in show, in appearance. 

X40. kissing cherries; a poetical way of expressing the meeting 
of the lips. 

141. Taurus is a famous mountain in Asia Minor. 

142. turns to a crow, seems black. 

144 * princess, paragon. 

seal of bliss, pledge. The lady bestows her hand upon her 
lover in pledge of her love. 

X45* ‘ I perceive that you are all minded to use me as your butt, 
for your amusement.* 

X48. thus much, so much. 

X50. But you must join, without also agreeing among your- 

in souls, with one accord; very heartily. 

X52. use, treat. 

X53* superpraise, praise my good qualities excessively ; a typica 
Shakespearean coinage. 

X57, This line is, of course, spoken ironically ; *a very praise- 
worthy action, indeed *. 

X58. conjure, call up, bring, summon (by unfair means). 

159. sort, kind, species. The word has very frequently with 
Shakespeare a contemptuous significance. See Glossary. 

X64. all good will, perhaps with something of the meaning of the 
commercial transaction which includes the “good will or me 

167. till my death. Yet another of the littlq touches of irony in 
this play. Cf. ii. 2. 16, 61, note. 

x68. waste more idle breath, talk so uselessly. 

X69, I will none, I ivill have nothing to do with her. 


I?;- ‘ My afl'cctions centred in her for a 'imc, but just as a man 
spends some time as a guest away from his home.’ ^ 

exnefipnr^°^ of which you have no conception, no 

experience. Love such as mine has never come to you.’ 

175. aby, pay for. See Glossary. 

dear, severely. 

177. Night makes eyesight useless. 

,, fjiat Shakespeare, even in his youthful 

clays, repeats his thought as he does here. 

182. ‘ Thine ear guided me to where I heard thy voice.’ 

186. bide, retnain; still used in the phrase “to bideone’stime” 

and colloquially in the North : oiuc one s time , 

I canna leave the auld hame. 

Ye ’d better bide a wee.” 

187. more engilds, ornaments, beautifies to a greater extent. 

188. fiery oes, i.e. the stars. 

i8g. this, r.^. my action in deserting you. 
montiy tensing, done in order to vex nnd 

197. bait, annoy. 

198. counsel, mutual confidential talks. 

200. chid, chidden; so forgot, forgotten (I. 201). 

205. on one ^mpler, working together u|X)n one piece of fancy 
wpihl over-elalKiralion of description and unnecessar^ 

210, ‘ But still united, although parted actually and bodily.’ 

215. rent, t.e. rend, tear apart. 

216. join with men, take the side of these two men in an attack 
upon one of your own sex. 

222. set, instigated; ‘set him on’. 

to, omitted in mtxlern usage. 

229. ; Disavow a precious love which fills his heart completely. 
232. so in grace, so fortunate. 

for^^e ** other in looks your derision and contempt 

239. hold .... keep up the amusing practice for a long lime. 

240. ‘ If you play the joke well it will become an oft-repeated and 

famous jest. ^ 

247. Sweet, Lysander. Ilcrmia, like Helena, still imagines 
that Lysander s words are spoken in jest. 

Scene 2] 



252. that which, namely, his life. 

255. withdraw, from the presence of the ladies in order to fight, 
prove, by superiority in sword-play. 

257. Ethiope, literally, a native of Ethiopia, the name given in 
ancient times to the land lying southward of Egypt ; thus, a negro, 
or anyone dark. Used by Shakespeare to <lenote lack of beauty in 
women. Cf. Dumain’s words in Loz'e's Labour's Lost (iv. 3. 117) : 

“Thou for whom Jove W'ould swear 
Juno but an Ethiope were.” 

259. ‘ Pretend to be seeking to free yourself from the restraining 
embrace of Hermia. Act in an angry fashion as if you are bursting 
to pursue and fight me, while all the time you are holding back, 
you cowardly fellow ! * 

261. like a serpent, roughly, and with anger and loathing. 

263. out ! hence ! go away ! 

Tartar. The Tartars were in Shakespeare’s time a 
Utt e-known race, beginning to threaten Western civilization, and 
reckoned fierce and barbarous as well as dark in hue (tawny). 
Shakespeare appears to use the phrase as a general expression of 
contempt, and one is at liberty to believe that the alliterative iingle 
w^as strong as any other influence upon his choice. Cf., however, 
Ethiope in 1. 257 above. 

267 8. bond; a rather skilful play upon the two meanings of the 
word : (i) a pledp, contract ; (2) a restriction. Demetrius demands 
a pledge; and therefore he hints at Lysander’s lack of courage, 
knowing that that will force him to pledge his word, and make 
a fight inevitable. But he also wishes Lysander to remember his 
tie to Hermia, who continues to hold him back. 

hear ^ what news ; ‘ This is strange and terrible news for me to 

274. erewhile, only a few days back ; a little while ago. 

282. Helena is the juggler, deceiver, and one who has tricked 
Ly^nder into chpging his affections. She has also wormed herself 
insidiously into his love. 

ve^^tki^uny.’’ ‘ “P the jest 

286. tear, force, compel. 

289. goes the game, is the trend of the jest which they are 

playing at my expense. ’ 

290. compare, comparison ; a noun. 

292. with her personage, by means of her tall figure and state- 

296. maypole, a familiar object in 

Elizabethan England, and 

. (/nrf.) H 



easily recognizable as a symbol of extreme height and thinness. In 
modern days we would as naturally say, “as tall as a telegraph 

298. ‘ Hut that I can scratch your eyes out.’ The Duchess of 
Gloucester is more figurative and collotjuial in Henry 1’/, when she 
says, “ I II set my ten commandments in your face.” 

30®. curst, shrewish, tjuarrelsome and vituperative. Katherine 
in The 'Taming of the Shrew, is called “ Kate the curst 

301. have no gift, am not skilled in vituperation. 

302. right, true, unmistakable, 
for, in respect of, as regards. 

308. counsels, almost ‘confidences’. Cf. I. 198 above. 

310. stealth, secret departure. 

314. so, provided. 

quiet, in peace, without further trouble. 

317. simple and fond, silly and foolish ; as generally in Shake* 

321. Pro[>cr names arc, as Helena here, often independent of the 
rules of scansion. 

323. keen and shrewd, cutting and biting in speech. 

328. come to her, i.e. to attack her. 

329. minimus, tiny creature; the sui>erlative of the Latin word 
for ‘small’. 

330. bead, acorn, l>oth very small things. 

333. intend, exhibit, show. 

334. Never so little, even the slightest; an idiomatic phrase. 

338. cheek by jole, or ‘cheek by jowl’, close to you; an 
idiomatic phrase. Demetrius means by it that he will not lag 
behind through cowardice as they go to fight. 

339* ‘All this trouble is entirely due to you.’ ‘You alone are 
responsible for this upisetling of things.’ 

341. curst, shrewish. Cf. 1. 300. 

342. ‘V’ou are readier than I to fight.’ Note the rhyming verses 
with which Helena marks her exit. Hermia in turn caj>s the 
rhyme, so emphasizing her own departure. 

345. still, always. 

352. did sort, did happen. 

353- jangling, quarrelling, 
sport, something amusing. 

356. ‘Obscure immediately the night sky with all its shining stars.* 

357. drooping fog, a heavy-settling fog. 

Scene 2] 



357. Acheron, the bitter stream in Hell over which the souls of 
the dead are 6rst conveyed by Charon. 

358. testy, prone to anger, quarrelsome, easily irritated. 

359. ‘ That the one does not meet the other as he goes along.’ 

361. By hearing the accents of Lysander, Demetrius will be 
roused to a remembrance of his deep injuries. 

363. look, take care that, ensure that. 

365. batty wings, the wings of a bat. Tennyson compares 
Night to a bat in the well-known lines from Maud: 

“Come into the garden, Maud, 

For the black bat, Night, hath flown.” 

366. crush, squeeze. 

368. with his might, by its power. 

370. derision, the bitter speeches and the unfortunate situation 
of the lovers. 

371. a dream ; again the reference to the dream-like nature of 
the play. Cf. i. 1.8, &c. 

fruitless, having no reality, no relation to things, and thus no 
consequences ; unattached to reality. 

373. ‘United in a bond of love which will endure as long as life 

date, duration. 

379. cut, i.e, cut through, pass through. 

380. Aurora’s harbinger, the morning star. Aurora was, in 
classical myth, a goddess, daughter of Hyperion and Thea. She 
“is generally represented by the poet drawn in a rose-coloured 
chariot, and opening with her rosy fingers the gates of the east, 
pouring the dew upon the earth, and making the flowers grow. Her 
chariot is generally drawn by white horses, and she is covered with 
a veil. Nox (Night) and Somnus (Sleep) fly before her, and the 
constellations of heaven disappear at her approach. She always sets 
out before the sun, and is the forerunner of his rising” (Lempriere), 

383. in crossways, at cross-roads. 

386. ‘Of their own free-will they banish themselves from daylight,’ 

389. Probably referring to Aurora, 1. 380. 

392. Neptune. Cf. ii. i. 126. 

393- ‘ Tints the green of the sea a golden hue.’ 

395. this business, i.e. of restoring concord among the lovers 
and reason to Titania. 

402. drawn, with his sword drawn. 

406. hide thy head, in shame and cowardice. 


407. J.e. bragging and boasting when you know there is no one 
to hear. 

409. wilt, and yet thou wilt, 
child, i.e. timid and frightened. 

410. defiled, by fighting with a boastful coward. 

412. try no manhood here ; we cannot decide here w’hich of us 
is the better man. 

417. way, path, road. 

418-20. The invocation to the Dawn is in keeping with the 
character of the speaker and the play. 

gentle day, which does permit us to sufl'er the injuries which 
afflict us in the night. 

4x9. grey light, the first faint glimmerings of dawn. 

422. Abide me, await my coming, 
well I wot, I know tjuite well. 

423. ‘You keep retreating before me and continually changing 
your place ! ’ 

426. buy this dear, i.e. I shall lake a very complete vengeance 
upon you. 

428-9. ‘ I am overcome by fatigue, and must therefore lay myself 
upon the cold ground to sleep.’ 

431-6. Note the verse form: a sextette, as in 11 . 122-33 above. 
It suits the lyrical nature of the speech, and is Ixilanced by Ilcrmia’s 
sextette at 11. 442-7. 

432. Abate thy hours, cut short the hours of night. 

434. ‘ Quitting the company of those persons who hate to have 
me with them.’ 

435 « Note the alliteration and also the figurative language in this 

437. ‘Only three! There is still another to come.’ 

447. mean a fray, intend to fight a duel. 

458. known, familiar to everyone. 

461. Jack and Jill, i.e. each lover will l>e happily mated, the 
theme of this plot. Jack and Jill arc well-known from the old 
nursery rhyme : 

“Jack and Jill went up the hill 
To fetch a jviil of water ; 

Jack fell down and broke his crown, 

And Jill came tumbling after ”. 



Act IV.— Scene 1. 

The quatrains of Titania’s opening speech are to emphasize the 

difference between her and Bottom, between a poetic 
a prose one. Shakespeare marks speeches of lyrical exaltation in 

this way also. See ii. 2. 35, note. 

2. amiable, to be scanned as a word of four syllables, with a 
lingering pronunciation to denote the caress in the speaker s voice. 

coy, caress. The word has the same root as * quiet’, and both 
have the idea of * to soothe . 

10. Monsieur, the French form of Mr. Later, Bottom, who ^ 
not quite at home with these strange servants, tries the Italian or 
‘Signor’, and next the Spanish ‘Cavalery’. 

15. Another reference to the size of the fairies. Cf. ii. l. 3 *» note. 

18. The word neaf is still used in the Northern dialect, although 
it has disappeared from standard speech. 

23. marvellous, exceedingly ; another rustic expression. 

24. A touch of unconscious humour. Bottom doesn’t know, of 
course, that he is an ass. 

25. Note that Titania’s speeches are all in verse, and that she 

uses the poetic ‘ thou ’. ^ 

26. Bottom is as full of self-confidence as ever, although a good 
ear” would reject the crude music of the tongs and the hone^ 
The latter instrument consists of two pieces of bone which are held 
between the fingers and rattled together rhythmically, noisily, bu 
not musically. 

29. your, the ‘familiar’ use. Cf. i. 2. 81. 

31. fellow, equal. 

36. exposition. Bottom misuses long words in his attempt to 
rise to the level of his unfamiliar society. Cf. iii. !• 3 S» dote. 

37. wind thee, enfold thee. 

41. ‘Encircles the branches (they are of bark, thus ‘barky ) of 
the elm.* To encircle the finger with a ring is the common symbol 
of betrothal and marriage. 

45. of late, recently. 

48. rounded, encircled. Note the alliteration. 

51. The poets frequently compare dewdrops to pearls; 

“ Dew-drops are the gems of morning 
But the tears of mournful eve.” 

Cf. also 

“ The liquid drops of tears that you have shed 
Shall come again, transform’d to orient pearl. 

{^Richard in', iv. 4. 320.) 



I he poetical idea of the flowers weeping for Tilania’s infatuation 
is of the nature of pathetic fallacy. 

54, at my pleasure, unchecked; ‘when I had made fun of her 
infatuation as much as 1 desired*. 

55. ‘And she in soft submissive words had besought me to be 

60. imperfection; by which she secs Bottom as a handsome 

62. swain, rustic; not ‘lover’, as frequently in poetry. 

63. other, used in Elizabethan English for both singular and 

64. ‘All of them may return to Athens.’ 

66. Yet another reference to the idea that these events are the 
fantastic happenings of a dream. Cf. i. 1. 8; iii. 2. 371, &c. 

^ 68 71. The change in verse and the trochaic rhythm suflicicntlv 
indicate the “ charm 

71. blessed power, power to do good. 

78 -9. Make the unconsciousness of these five people deeper 
than ordinary slumber.’ 

80. charmeth, produces as if by magic. 

82. take hands, for the dance. Cf. Ariel's song in The 'I'cmpestt 

“ Come unto these yellow sands 
And there take hands.” 

83. rock, as if it were a cradle. 

84. ‘ Now we arc friends once more.’ 

85. solemnly, as part of a ceremony due. 

87. ‘ And invoke for it happiness of every kind.* 

100. forester; who will indicate where the game is to be found. 

101. observation, an anachronism, as there were no May morn- 
ing rites in ancient Athens. 

102. ‘Since it is yet very early in the morning.’ 

103. the music, t.e. the cry of the hounds; cf. I. 115. 

105. Dispatch, hasten. 

108. in conjunction, sounding together. 

109. Hercules is associated with Crete in the seventh of his 
Twelve Labours, where he destroyed a prodigious wild bull which 
was laying waste that land, and with llippoly'ta in the ninth, when 
he secured her girdle. According to one story he was brought up 
at Thebes, which may explain his connection with Cadmus, said to 
be the founder of Thebes. Theseus had also a connection with 
Crete, as he slew the minotaur there. 

no. bay; see Glossary. 


1 12. chiding, barking in excitement and impatience as they 

113. fountains, springs. Some editors suggest as more likely 
the word ‘mountains’. Crete is a mountainous island. 

1 15. Examples of the figure called Oxymoron. 

116. * With the same large over-hanging lip, the same sandy 
colour, the same long ears hanging down to the ground. 

119. Thessaly was one of the countries of ancient Greece; and 
Mount Olympus was there, the fabled home of the gods. 

122. Upon hearing the hounds in full cry the huntsmen would 
cheer them on with joyful shouts (hollas) or the sounding of horns. 

124. soft! pause for a moment. 

nymphs; the two beautiful ladies, being discovered asleep in 
the woods, are described by Theseus in his gaiety of spirit as forest- 
nymphs; because classical mythology peopled the earth with such 
inferior divinities, who were thought of as beautiful maidens who 
never grew old. 

128. wonder of, wonder at. 

*31* in grace of, to do honour to our observances. 

136. St. Valentine’s Day, the 14th February. The custom 
choosing your lover on that day was very common in England, and 
still survives in the country districts. There is a song by Ophelia 
{HamUty iv. 5. 49), about the ceremony, beginning : 

“ To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, 

All in the morning betime, 

And I a maid at your window, 

To be your Valentine.” 

140. ‘ How does it happen that there is now peace between you, 
that, although you are rivals, you do not show hatred of each other, 
but sleep fearlessly and peace^Uy side by side.’ 

* 43 « Lysander’s incoherence shows the confusion of his mind 
upon waking after his strange adventures in the night. 

147. bethink, the use of this word is very infrequent in modern 

149-50. to be gone, to depart from Athens to any place we 
could find where the cruel Athenian law did not run. Some editors 
place a dash after ‘ law *, indicating that Egeus interrupts at that 

151. you have enough, i.e, evidence against the lovers. 

153. stolen away, escaped by stealth. 

158. hither, in coming hither. 

160. ‘ And the beauteous Helena was so carried away by her love 
for me that she followed.* 


161. I wot, archaic; ‘I know’. 

164. an idle gawd, some trifling toy valued by me in childhood 

for no reason whatsoever. 

168. Is only Helena, is Helena alone. 

174. ‘ This has turned out to be a fortunate meeting.’ 

175. this discourse, the account of this strange mailer. 

176. overbear your will, overrule you, usurp your paternal 

authority. ^ 

178. knit, united in marriage. Note the force of the word. 

179. ‘Since the morning is now almost spent.’ worn is, of 
course, metaphorical. 

180. set aside, pul off. 

182. solemnity, cf. I. 131, ‘ with great ceremony ’. 

184 96. Note how the dialogue gains in naturalness, wit, and 
liveliness by the ending of one speech and the breaking in of the 
next in the same line. Each lover was clearly eager to contribute 

iv adventure. The same effect is seen in 

J hf Alerchant of v. i, where the spontaneity of Lorenzo and 

^ssica, their mutual affection, and their wit are similarly indicated. 
1 his IS part of Shakespeare’s growing skill in technitjue. 

188. like a jewel. Similes of a more or less ornamental kind 
arc fairly common in the earlier plays. Later, Shakespeare prefers 
the brevity of the metaphor. 

igi- Again the insistence on the dream nature of the play. 

197. Note the rhythmic swing of Bottom’s first sentence. 

198. my next, my next cue. 

200. God’s nay life, the Christian oath comes rather disturb- 
ingly after the Athenian ‘temple’ (1. 194). 

, . f y® man. Bottom is recalling scrajis and tags of 

his childhood s lessons m the Scriptures. ^ 

211. hath no bottom, has no understandable meaning. 

Scene 2 . 

3. transported, i.^. by the fairies. They had seen him trans- 
lormed into an ass by the fairies, and his absence now is put down 
to the same agency. ^ 

5. goes not forward, cannot Ihj produced. 

8. discharge, acquit himself in the part of Ryramus ns Bottom 

II. person, handsome appearance. 

15. Note once more the rhythmic swing of the prose. 

17* made men, t.e, we should have made our fortunes. 

Act V. Sc. i] 



18. bully j the meaning of this word here is practically its mean* 
ing in modern slang, i.e. first-rate, excellent. Some lost Elizabe^an 
terms appear to have survived in the New England States and to 
have found their way back to the English in course of time. 

23. hearts, good comrades. Cf. Tempest^ i. i. 29; “Cheerily, 
good hearts ! ” 

26. ‘ My friends, I could tell you of .strange things which have 

28. ‘ Everything exactly as it occurred,’ 

30. of me, out of me. 

31. strings, to fasten their beards. 

32. pumps, light shoes for dancing and acting. 

33. for the short . . . , the phrase is, of course, usually the other 
way round; but this is, therefore, the more typically Bottom’s. 

Act V. 

The triple confusion of (a) the lovers, (^) the fairies, and (r) the 
players has been resolved, and the play ends, like The Aferchant 
of Venicty on a note of general merriment. 

2. may, can. 

3. antique, i.e. antic, odd, strange; ‘these fantastic stories and 
these fanciful ideas ’. 

4 * seething brains, excited imaginations and thoughts. 

w 5 ‘ Such shaping fantasies, fancies which the lovers and the 
-A men make concrete in thinking of them. Shakespeare usually rnakes 
his thoughts concrete by a picture of the idea; o.g. “ Her love is not 
the hare that I do hunt.” As the poet Gray said, “ Every word in 
Shakespeare is a picture.” 

6, ‘ And so they conceive more than the rational-thinking man 
can ever understand.’ 

8. ‘ Have imagination as their pre-eminent and controlling 


9 * The lunatic imagines strange devils which are annoying and 
thwarting him. 

to. all as frantic, quite as mad, no less mad. 

It. ‘Thinks his lady-love (who is no beauty) to be as incom- 
parably fair as that Helen of Troy,* of peerless beauty, of whom 
Marlowe wrote: “Was that the face that launched a thousand 
ships?” This and similar references, occurring especially in the 
sonnets, have made certain Shakespearean students see in what are 
perfectly general statements an individual and personal expression 
of the poet’s hopeless passion for a dark beauty. The result is “ the 
Dark Lady of the Sonnets.” 



12. rolling; he looks around for inspiration, and finds it every- 
where he casts his eye. 

14. bodies forth, gives them a dehniteness in thought and idea. 

16. airy nothing, what is merely idea. 

17. a local habitation, a definiteness, an existence in language. 

19. if it would but, if it merely desires to. 

21. imagining some fear, when one has an undefined feeling of 
fear in one’s heart. From the evidence of this speech of Theseus 
alone it is clear that Shakespeare studied the poetic art deeply. 

22. easy, easily. 

23. ‘ Having heard all the dct.ails of the story, and knowing also 
that all the lovers were transfigured, wc have testimony more strong, 
credilile and consistent than would he possible if it were merely the 
tricks of imagination.’ 

27. admirable, to he wondered at. This is the meaning of the 
original Latin. Cf. Hamlet’s “Season your admiration for a while.” 

29. fresh, with the meanings of lioth ‘ pure * and ‘ renewed.* 

30-1. ‘ May the good wishes which you extend to us he yours in 
even greater measure, in every phase of your life — walking, feasting, 

32. masques. Sec Glossary, 
dances, exhibitions of dancing. 

33. ‘ lo enable us to pass this lengthy period of waiting.* 

36. in hand, in prcjxiration. 

37 * torturing hour, an example of transferred epithet. 

41. the lazy time, time which is slow in passing, 
delight, some show which will give pleasure. 

42. brief, list. Cf. a lawyer’s brief; and see Glossary. ‘ Here is 
a list of the various amusements which have been arranged for your 
Irenefit and are ready to l>e shown.’ 

45 ' The song of the battle would be rendered by some one dressed 
in the garb of an Athenian minstrel, who was very often a slave. 

46. We 11 none of that, ‘ We shall not choose that theme, be- 
cause I have already narrated the story to Hipjx>lyta my queen.* 

47 * In his I^ife of ‘Theseus Plutarch states that Hercules and 
Theseus were related. 

48. Bacchanals. The festivals of Rrcchus were called Bacchanalia 
or orgies. 

49. the Thracian singer, Orpheus. He was by some supposed 
to be the son of ilie god Apollo, from whom he received the lyre 
with which he charmed animated nature, savage beasts, trees, rivers, 
and mountains. After his vain visit to hell to regain his wife 

Scene x] 

additional notes 


Eurydice, he retired to nature’s solitude separating 

j::^d s one or 

the Argonauts. ,. - 

50. old device, i.e. not a new play ; a dramat.c subject frequently 


52. Notice the alliteration. , 

thrice three Muses; there were nine Muses, ^ 

over poetry, music, dancing, and all the liberal arts, ^lio «as the 
Muse of history, Terpsichore of dancing. Calliope of P 

Thalia of pastoral and comic poetry, and Melpomene of tragedy. ^ 

53. ‘Some learned writer who has 

It IS quite probable that Shakespeare made no f„j 

merely expressed the typical and conventional regr P 

the decay of learning in the land. 

55. ‘ Not at all in keeping with, or suitable for this occasion— a 
wedding celebration.’ . 

60. *What is the explanation of this ' e’ b" re 

Concord and discord refer to musical harmony, of 

generalized. Shakespeare has several such figures ro > 

which art the Elizabethans were very fond. 

61. some ten words long, t.e. very short. 

65. fitted, suited to his part. r u .i cc 

68. rehearsed. Philostrate must have witnessed a u re 
rehearsal of the play that same afternoon. 

69. merry tears, the absurdity of the presentation of t ^ 
death of Pyramus moved Philostrate to “laugh until he cried again . 

71- The growth in naturalness in the °bic^*feet 

verse is seen in this short line, not padded out to fi » 

but left as it stands. . , 

74. ‘ And in rehearsing this play they have exerted minds quite 

unused to such exercise.’ , 

75. against, in anticipation of, in preparation for, your we mg 

77. not for you, i.e. not suitable for you, unworthy of your 
attention. ^ ^ , 

heard it over, I’ve listened to it from beginning to en^. 

80. « Very greatly strained and very laboriously acquired.’ 

82-3. A noble thought, simply expressed. 9 ':^. no 

five words long*\ of which Tennyson writes. r^cn^rt ^ 

harm in any act inspired by sincere loyalty and ingenu P 

83. duty, sense of loyalty and respect for the ICing. 


» c } never liked to see poor souls overburdened in Ihcir 

task ol trying to please, and coming to grief and humiliation.’ 

88. in this kind, of this nature. 

89. kinder, note the pun. * The more gracious are we, if we 
give ... 

du?^„'r'Lu"r”ben"efi “■ '>»'‘ing'y P- 


g^rcat clerks, learned scholars. 

95. shiver, with stage fright. 

elcxjuence on account of their fear of the 



101. fearful duty, timid loyalty and shy respect. 

102. rattling, chattering, lorjuacious. 

J05. ‘ Say most in very few words, in my opinion.’ 

“ iTc^'is addl^eivi"’ "'•'‘‘I*"'.’- C(./,M,s C,rs.,r (iii. 29): 

Uc is address d : draw near and second him ”. 

107. The short line provides the necessary pause for the flourish 
of trumpets and the entry of the Prologue. 

108-17. The change to quatrains marks the l)ci:innin{r of the 
!^;thof straightforward language points 

1 12. in despite, with any malicious intention. 
xi 3 ‘ as minding to, with the purpose of. 

114. All for, entirely for. 

1 19. rid, ridden. 

rc.-idil'v’‘'Dnr/-‘in.fd ''“'^■^"'■.nship would be 

is a characteristic of the wufy Language on"heco^ 

« */■ would know. This is padding, to eke out the metre 

speare kne"w Ws 72 ^ Shake- 

137 156? l6i ^ instances of padding occur at 11. 135. 

129. certain, with the accent on the second syllable to suit the 

metre; another sign of inferior versifying. ^ to suit me 

131. vile; in the sense of being evilly-disposed to the lovers. 


138. hight, an oi)Solete word for ‘called’, and used in parody 
here, as in Labouf^s Lost (i. l. 258). 

139-40. Note how the unskilful inversions give at first glance the 
contrary meaning. 

trusty, keeping her pledge ; true to Pyramus. 

X44. mantle slain, an example of bathos, or of ami-climax. 

145. The abuse of alliteration marks Shakespeare’s burlesquing of 
the euphuistic writing of the period. Cf. 1 . 128, not^ Kent, m 
King Lear (ii. 2. 111-4), shows the manner of the Euphuists in 

his Unes al>out Phcebus. 

146. broach’d ; again the word chosen is hardly the most suit- 
able, and its chief value is for the alliteration. 

147. The story as told by unlearned rustics lacks something of the 
conseculiveness desirable in narrative. * Thisbe, who h^ , 
tarrying in a mulberry shade, found, as she went forward, the body 
of her lover; whereupon, distraught, she killed herself.’ 

I 50 ‘ ‘Tell the story fully and in detail.’ 

154. befall; again the word is chosen for its rhyming suitability 
rather than its exact meaning. 

157 ‘ crannied. Shakespeare uses the word which he found in 
the translation by Golding (see p. 174 )* “The wall that parted 
house from house had riven therein a cranny.” 

162. There is a pun on the word sinister, which in Latin means 
‘left’, ‘on the left hand’. 

169. The emptiness of thought is the essence of the burlesque. 

X 75 - Again the jingle of ‘ chink ’ and ‘ blink ’ marks the burlesque. 

180. sensible, capable of feeling ; the primary meaning. 

181. again ; with the idea of ‘ curse back ’. 

184. pat, exactly. 

188. cherry lips, more burlesque. Obviously Thisbe should 
have left this lover-like description to Pyramus. 

X 95 * Leander, a youth of Abydos, famous in classical story, who 
swam the Hellespont nightly to visit Hero, a beautiful priestess of 
Venus at Sestos. He is often taken as the type of the devoted 

196. Helen ; Bottom means Hero, who cast herself into the sea 
and perished when she heard that her lover Leander had lieen 
drowned while crossing to her on a stormy night. 

201. Ninny's tomb. Cf. iii. i. 84. 

202. ’tide, betide ; whether I live or die. 

206. No remedy, there can be no cure for this so long as . . . 

26 o 


209. shadows. Cf. Puck’s closing lines (v. i. 409): “If we 
shadows have oflendcd.” 

210. imagination, i.c. our imagination. Shakespeare provided 
his audience with many*aids to understanding, action, music, 
pictorial metaphors, and so on. Hut he knew that in the end he 
must have their co operation also ; and he lays down in the Prologue 
to Kintr Henry K the demands which he makes upon the imagina- 
tion of the spectators. 

This speech by Theseus is a goo<l illustration of the kindly judg- 
ment and true gentlemanliness of Shakesj>eare’s noblemen; and Ins 
liigh born ladies, as Portia, Olivia, Imogen, arc characterized by 
a similar kindly courtesy. 

216. smallest monstrous, at first sight an example of oxymoron. 
Hut monstrous here has the meaning of ‘terrifying’, ‘causing 
terror ‘. 

218. Again the alliteration to emphasize the burlcstpic. 

220. The double negative, like the mispronunciation, denotes the 
speech of “rude mechanicals”. 

222. ’t were pity on my life, ‘ I should be exceedingly ashamed 
of myself and of my politeness before ladies’. 

225. A typical witty remark of an Elizabethan courtier. 

228. carries the goose, the fox is a noted stealer of fowls. 

232. present, i,e. represent. 

241. for, on account of, for fear of. 

243. change. The double meaning of change is played on here, 
as on snuff in the prcvio»is line. 

245. in courtesy. Cf. 1 . 210 and note. 

in all reason, t.c. it will only be fitting anti reasonable, 
slay the time, await the conclusion. 

257. with a good grace, in excellent fashion. 

262. sunny; again the deliberate burlestjue; ‘ the moon’s bright 

264. golden; the proper epithet is, of course, silver. 

268. dole, grief. 

271. dainty duck, completely out of place in a tragic theme, and 
so the more suitable for burlestjue. 

276. thrum, see Glossary. 

277* Quail, quell ; from the Old English cwellan, to kill, 
conclude, bring my life tt> an end. 

280. Spoken jestingly in allusion to Bottom’s over-eloquent ex- 
pressions of grief. 


282. deflower’d; used with the straight-forward meaning of 
‘having cut short my beloved’s young life in untimely fashion, as 
a flower is plucked’. The ridicule lies in the secondaiy meaning, 
of which Bottom is, of course, ignorant. 

284. cheer, face ; as in iii. 2. 96. 

285. confound, destroy. 

304. passion, emotion, sorrow. 

305. use a long one, speak a long speech of sorrow. 

307. A mote, a particle of dust; familiar from the reference in 
Matthew, vii. 3. 

310. Again the good-humoured mocking praise. 

311. videlicet, as you may observe. 

318. lily, the epithets are ludicrously misapplied. 

320. cowslip, a common little yellow flower found in meadows. 

323. green as leeks; a reference to this familiar vegetable of 
humdrum life is out of place in serious tragedy. 

324. Cf. 1 . 274, note. 

328. shore, i.e. shorn. 

343 * The dramatis personae of a play may be said to die when 
the play is flnished. 

347 * notably discharged, admirably performed. 

349 ‘ iron tongue, i.e. the chimes at midnight. 

35 ** out-sleep, sleep through the hours of morning. 

352 - overwatched, been wakeful beyond the ordinary time. 

353 « This play, performed by dull-witted rustics, has caused the 
slow hours of night to pass by easily. 

358. behowls. The folio and quartos have beholds. It is note- 
worthy that many of these fine emendations were made by the 
eighteenth-century critic, Theobald, whom Pope made the original 
hero of his Dunciad, but who was a first-rate Shakespearean scholar. 
Cf. The Merchant of Veniee, ii. i. 35, note. 

360. fordone, wearied out. 

361. wasted brands, the burnt-out logs in the fire. 

362. the screech-owl, a bird of ill-omen. Cf. Macbeth, ii. 2. 3. 
367* Every one, i.e. every grave. 

368. church-way paths ; because graveyards were usually in 
the grounds of the church. 

370* Hecate, here a dissyllable, as frequently in Shakespeare. 
She presided over magic and enchantments. 

373 » frolic, frolicsome. 

377 * glimmering light, suitable for fairy visits. 



380. brier, the wild rose, so common on English roadsides. 

383. ‘ First of all, learn your song by heart.’ 

389. bride-bed, of Theseus and Ilippolyta his queen. 

391. create, created. Cf. I. 401, consecrate. 

395. blots of Nature’s hand, disfiguring birthmarks. 

398. prodigious, of monsters, unnatural. 

402. take his gait, make his way. 

409, Cf. Theseus’ speech at I. 209. 

410. mended, set right. 

415. reprehend, blame. 

416. mend, improve. 

417. an honest Puck; Puck was a general name for any fair)-. 

418. unearn'd, not deserved. 

421. ‘Otherwise you may call me a liar.* 



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